6. Air Traffic Controllers Sometimes Zone Out Too
It’s not unheard of for air traffic controllers to catch some z’s at their desk, either. This is particularly prevalent in during nighttime mid-shifts when they’re in the tower alone and flights are few and far between. Maybe it’s the soft glow of the instrument panel that lulls them to sleep. There have been a few incidents of radio silence due to snoozing controllers. On March 23, 2011, a lone controller pulling his fourth graveyard shift in a row nodded off for half an hour while on duty. Two planes managed to land on their own, but there was a media backlash about what could have gone down. Back in 2006, a Comair commuter jet crashed on the wrong runway in Lexington, Kentucky, as the solo tower controller working on two hour’s sleep got distracted. Cost cutting measures and overwork can lead to human errors like this. In fact, between October 2009 and October 2010, FAA “operational errors” increased more than 50 percent. Yikes!