UnNews:New measures taken to keep air traffic controllers awake

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18 April 2011

Air Traffic Control Tower

The interior of an air traffic control tower... before the new regulations are to take effect.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Traffic Controllers Union (ATCU) recently agreed to take measures that would no longer allow workers to sleep on the job. This comes in the wake of seven controllers being discovered sleeping in the tower since the beginning of the year, making incoming pilots step up and actually land their planes themselves. Experts think that these seven are only the "tip of the iceberg," however, and believe that they've only caught a couple of the workers who don't know how to get away with quick naps on the clock. They even suspect that some workers are "not even showing up to their shifts at all," instead directing planes in to land from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, "This is outrageous. As soon as I heard about these controllers sleeping, I expressed my outrage and talked about the fact that I wanted the controllers suspended, I want an investigation, and I want the public to know we will not allow controllers to sleep on the job." However, to everyone's surprise, it looks as if LaHood's choice of words - which had been phrased in such a way as to allow for complete inaction without making him a liar - will actually bring about a change in policy.

The agreement LaHood and the FAA struck with the ATCU would require workers to take an extra hour off in between shifts, even if they trade duties, and would not allow them to suddenly be called in to work for the night shift after a day off. However, it is the last agreement that was made in the meeting that is really turning heads.

"We agreed that more FAA managers would be have to be on hand for the late night and early morning shifts," LaHood said, deftly hiding a knowing smile.

While this part of the agreement seems innocuous enough, UnNews uncovered an interesting secret when it found and interviewed one of these managers, who refused to give his identity for fear of retribution for disclosing this information.

His name is John Doyle, he is 25 years old, and lives in Cicero, just outside of Chicago, Illinois. He's worked as an FAA manager for 2 years now. However, he does very little "managing."

"I'm a DJ," he said, "My job is to bring my equipment into the air traffic control tower and play music to keep the workers awake."

Unfortunately, as had been discovered recently, this doesn't always work.

"I had my hands tied because part of the job was that I had to do what the workers told me to do. I had to play the music they picked; I had to play it at the volume they wanted... The only thing I couldn't do for them was turn the player off, but even then I'd occasionally get bribes big enough to make it worthwhile, so I'd turn it off."

DJ2

The more savvy of the air traffic controllers didn't even have to bribe "managers" like John to get in their shut-eye.

"Technically, white noise is defined as music, so if a worker needed a nap and didn't want to bribe me, they'd ask me to play some of that. I couldn't say no... All I could do was watch them doze off and watch the planes run into each other on the tarmac."

With the new regulations that the FAA and ATCU agreed upon, however, John can not only do his job better; now he has some help.

"One of the stipulations of that agreement is that I don't have to listen to what [the air traffic controllers] tell me, anymore. I can play Dragonforce at maximum volume all night and they can't do anything about it... Even better, though, is we're getting more managers in the control tower."

This is great news for airline fliers concerned for their safety, these new managers are not just DJs; they're professional dancers and avid clubbers, trained by the FAA to party hard in the towers to keep the air traffic controllers awake and alert. In fact, the only thing on their job description is to "Keep the air traffic controllers awake by any and all means, with the exception of physical contact."

"I am confident that this will rectify the situation," LaHood boasted, "I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out."

Air traffic controllers, on the other hand, are divided. Some see the new regulations as an excellent way to spice up the workplace and make their jobs less tedious and monotonous, even admitting to being "excited" for the changes to be implemented and expressing their desire to "rock fucking on." Others, on the other hand, are a little more disappointed.

"I took this job because it was boring and I could sleep through it," a controller at the T.F. Green International Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, said. "Now that I'm being, literally, forced to work for my entire shift, I have to say that I'm angry. I feel like my rights are being violated. They're saying that I can't sleep; this is tantamount to torture."

Lawyers are wrangling with the repercussions of the decision on basic human rights but, for now at least, the changes are set to be implemented by the end of the month, and John Doyle can't be happier.

"I can finally do my job well. Penthouse Tower is set to open."

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