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Night shifts - air traffic control

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  • #46
    I remember my first few months with my current employer. I was in a position that had me on my feet all day long. I saw people who had jobs that allowed them to sit in front of a computer all day, and I envied them. Fast forward to today....my position requires me to sit behind a keyboard 98% of the day. And now I laugh at what I thought earlier. And this applies to the atc's.

    Sitting at a computer all day isn't hard in a strenuous way, but it's still hard on the body. As one might imagine, such a lifestyle lowers the body's metabolism rate. This means that it becomes harder to stay awake. And while I can usually come up with an excuse to walk somewhere, I doubt atc's have the ability to get up & walk around anytime they want. Imagine having a job where every day you drove the same straight road through the desert every day. Between the lowering of the metabolism rate, the drone of looking at the same things over & over again, & general eye fatigue from staring in a focused manner at the same thing all day, it can be extremely difficult to stay awake. And I'm saying that as someone who works a regular day schedule. I couldn't imagine doing my job overnight, much less a schedule like those that have been posted here.

    I can tell you that most Americans suffer from "the grass is always greener" syndrome when it comes to jobs. People see what they want to see, and rarely acknowledge the difficult aspects of some jobs. Some of what I've seen posted here isn't much more than ignorant pettiness.
    This Space For Rent

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    • #47
      Originally posted by FireCop604 View Post
      People on overnights in our com center routinely take naps.
      Must be nice..... Everywhere I've been assocated as a LEO they'd be fired on the spot for napping on the job........

      I've seen Supervisors/Sheriffs/Chiefs fire folks for doing it.....and have fired folks myself for doing it.....

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      • #48
        Yep, English is the standard language in aviation. Now French pilots for example can and do speak French to French controllers but if they are flying into Russia then English is spoken by both sides.

        I doubt atc's have the ability to get up & walk around anytime they want. Imagine having a job where every day you drove the same straight road through the desert every day. Between the lowering of the metabolism rate, the drone of looking at the same things over & over again, & general eye fatigue from staring in a focused manner at the same thing all day, it can be extremely difficult to stay awake
        Exactly when you are working a 3 am shift and you only have one or two planes to deal with, you get very bored and could tire easily. My old job involved sitting in front of a PC for 8-9 hours and 3/4 through the work period its a struggle to keep you eyes open sometimes and if the work period was at 2 am I wouldn't doubt nodding off for 5 minutes by accident.

        The best thing the FAA could do is close some of these towers from, say, 12:00 am to 6:00 am (that's how it was where I worked).
        That's the case with the executive airport north of O'Hare (KPWK) but that will never happen at ORD, in fact I think ORD's tower is staffed with 3 controllers during odd hours.
        Life is what you make of it

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        • #49
          Personally I think that the irregular shifts are idiotic; I have scheduled 24-hour shifts before and there is no reason you can't have people work the same shift every day...

          But, I have worked plenty of graveyard and irregular schedules throughout my life. If you can't make it through your shift without a nap, there is a problem you need to address.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by ryker View Post
            The very same argument could be used for dozens of low paid jobs including LE.
            Sorry you work for a sucky agency, but I'm sure they get their money's worth.
            Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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            • #51
              Originally posted by tc215 View Post
              I've done the controller thing, the pilot thing, and now the police thing for the past several years.

              ATC was certainly more stressful than police work for me. Whoever stated that it was just "looking at a computer screen and helping planes land" was being overly simplistic and way off base.

              In any job where you have to work all night, be it ATC, police work, whatever, some folks are going to have a hard time staying awake. Being up all night isn't normal and your body doesn't like it.

              The best thing the FAA could do is close some of these towers from, say, 12:00 am to 6:00 am (that's how it was where I worked). Some of these towers are staying open all night and just working a handful of departures or arrivals during these hours. It would be ROUGH trying to stay awake for that.
              I think the point is that if you get paid THAT MUCH, then you should be able to find a way to keep yourself awake.
              I yell "PIKACHU" before I tase someone.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by FireCop604 View Post
                They work an effed up schedule of 0700 - 1700 for two days followed by 1700 - 0700 for two days then off for 4 days.
                Now THAT is a sh*t schedule.

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by celticpilot View Post
                  While I agree with you that LEO's, Dispatchers and Communications Officers deserve better pay and work rules, I think you are way off base with your assertion that ATC is a cushy job.

                  Most of there job is unseen as it is accomplished inside their heads, while they juggle multiple aircraft inbound and outbound from different directions (and at the same time as working the radio, radar, and computer). One moments inattention or error could lead to hundreds of fatalities... No stress involved there, right...?

                  I can tell you that we have the best Air Traffic Controllers in the World, and I for one would prefer to keep it that way. If it takes high pay and bennies to attract and keep the right kind of people for that job, then so be it.

                  Trust me on this one, I've worked at a lot more airfields than you.
                  Beidh ár lá linn

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                  • #54
                    As someone who recently left the aviation industry to pursue a LE career, I can only say this about ATC. They are a good bunch of folks who do a very stressful and seldom appreciated job. They have helped me out a bunch when I was on my last leg of a trip with a plane full of pax and trying to get me home as quick as possible so I could see my kids before their bed time. But on the other side of the coin I have seen some mistakes on there end. They are human and can make mistakes, just like a pilot can, or anybody else for that matter. They are paid fairly well at some facilities and make ok wages at others. They should do there best at all times and the friends I have that are controllers do so everyday, but they know as all aviators know some controllers will have off days. Is it acceptable to sleep on the job? Nope. Do they have stresses that we cannot understand? Yup. Do we need to punish those who screw up? Yup.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Rudy8116 View Post
                      I think the point is that if you get paid THAT MUCH, then you should be able to find a way to keep yourself awake.
                      Your body doesn't care how much money you make. I'm not sure if they still do this, but when I worked for the FAA, they were big on mandatory overtime, but they would do it in split shifts. i.e., come in and work for a few hours, go home for a few hours, come back in and work a few more hours. Couple that with the goofy schedule, and you have a recipe for disaster.

                      EDIT: Not trying to stick up or make excuses for anyone sleeping on the job...But there are some people making judgements when they have zero knowledge of the job...Sound familiar?
                      Last edited by tc215; 04-20-2011, 07:56 AM.

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                      • #56
                        Most state and cities are attacking public service unions. Yet these ATC union guys are flying under the radar. Average pay of 100,000.00 a year with 20yr pension for a job that they sleep half of and watch movies for the other.
                        Last edited by ryker; 03-29-2012, 07:04 AM.
                        Any views or opinions presented by this prenomen are solely those of a burlesque author and do not necessarily represent those of a LEA or caementum couturier.

                        nom de plume

                        This is the internet- take all information with a grain of salt. Such could be valid and true or could be typed just for playing devils advocate.

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                        • #57
                          What I've read- The reason for ATC goofy schedule is they want long weekends. Work 5 8hr shifts within a 4 day period. Thus 3-3.5 days off.
                          Any views or opinions presented by this prenomen are solely those of a burlesque author and do not necessarily represent those of a LEA or caementum couturier.

                          nom de plume

                          This is the internet- take all information with a grain of salt. Such could be valid and true or could be typed just for playing devils advocate.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by ryker View Post
                            It's one thing to take an unauthorized powernap, for which many LEO, Dispatchers, and CO have been fired or punished for. ATC is reported to have a "don't ask, tell or look" from managers on workers routinely taking turns to sleep for hours.

                            Most state and cities are attacking public service unions. Yet these ATC union guys are flying under the radar. Average pay of 100,000.00 a year with 20yr pension for a job that they sleep half of and watch movies for the other.
                            Yet a patrolman with 25lbs of duty gear will work 12hr nights for 1/3 the pay and no pension. Dispatch and CO even less.


                            The only thing I've flown was an old Cessna. So I have a question for modern planes pilots.. Inside your cockpit do you have any radar to see range and elv of nearby planes? I know the ATC controls your placement but if they make a mistake do you have a radar or at the very least a warning light?
                            No, not unless you're flying a large plane, or you have a lot of money and can afford that stuff in a small one. However, unless that pilot is in Instrument Meteorlogical Conditions (like in the clouds), the pilot is responsible to see and avoid other aircraft. ATC is there to provide seperation for aircraft flying on instruments. They can give traffic advisories to VFR (not on instruments) aircraft as their workload permits, but it's still on the pilots to see and avoid.

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by ryker View Post
                              What I've read- The reason for ATC goofy schedule is they want long weekends. Work 5 8hr shifts within a 4 day period. Thus 3-3.5 days off.
                              No.

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                              • #60
                                If you fall asleep, you won't kill up to 500 people
                                ,

                                And yet you sleep half of your shift?!
                                Last edited by ryker; 03-29-2012, 07:06 AM.
                                Any views or opinions presented by this prenomen are solely those of a burlesque author and do not necessarily represent those of a LEA or caementum couturier.

                                nom de plume

                                This is the internet- take all information with a grain of salt. Such could be valid and true or could be typed just for playing devils advocate.

                                Comment

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