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Air Traffic Controllers Can Listen to Radio Overnight

FAA: Change is part of effort to keep controllers alert

The Federal Aviation Administration says air traffic controllers now are allowed to do more things — such as listening to the radio — to stay awake during overnight hours.

The FAA announced the new procedures in an agreement (PDF) reached with the controllers’ union.

Workers can listen to the radio while on the job between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and read “appropriate” material, as traffic permits, according to the agreement. Bloomberg reported that for now, the agency is keeping schedules in which controllers work two evenings, followed by two day shifts and an overnight shift.

In a statement, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said the changes are being made “to reduce the possibility of fatigue.” The FAA has found nine controllers as sleeping or unresponsive on the job since January.