As reported in this AP story (Solution for fatigued aviation workers eludes FAA) the FAA is failing on the policy and practice side, and it is putting passengers at risk. They need to address the very real issues of worker fatigue by permitting them rest at downtime, or otherwise, creating schedules that work both for the work, and the worker.
Use science and the understanding of the mind (such as the thoughts reported in this 2008 Forbes article: Eight Reasons Why You Can’t Pay Attention). Try perhaps: really short shifts, tag-team style. Master the latest in attention keeping and train pilots, controllers and others in these techniques. Be “ruthless” in creating space where concentration is possible. This leads to technology because they would need to examine the sounds, the lights and other kit in the room to see how they affect the controller’s attention (do they distract, soothe to the point of over relaxation?)
The FAA owes it to their employees to seriously examine this problem from new perspectives, and to spend money to keep their employees at the peek of efficiency because that is the only way they can fulfill their mandate for passenger safety. It’s time for the FAA to design the experience across the broad range of employees who suffer fatigue because we can’t get out of the way of old ways of thinking.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.