|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Locale Reference||atc facility : mci.tower|
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : local|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Experience||controller non radar : 2|
controller radar : 22
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|ATC Facility||procedure or policy : mci.tower|
staffing : mci.tower
We lost 7 controllers at mci (6 fpl's and 1 supervisor) in a 6 month period. We also have 2 controllers that are disqualified due to medical reasons. That leaves us with 31 controllers able to work traffic. In the past our numbers were usually around 42. We have had numerous sick leave 'hits' which reduces our numbers even further. Only 8 months ago; management wanted the tower staffed with 5 and the TRACON with at least 6 to start a shift for a total of 11. Now; it seems to be 'ok' to start a shift with 5; 6 or 7. Management is very; very reluctant to call overtime. It's not unusual to have 4 position open in the TRACON; the supervisor running the floor and working arrival data (a strict 'no-no' in the past!) and to not have a controller reserve to give breaks. On one particular shift we only had 3 controllers working 3 position in the TRACON from XA00 am to XD00 am. We just combined position up quickly to take bathroom breaks; and then reopened the position. This short staffing can quickly lead to potential degradation of safety -- especially in the event of an emergency or bad WX. Controllers are fatigued working so short staffed. The management at mci also has changed our shift. This means a controller has worked 16 hours in a 24-25 hour period. That practice is not all that unusual -- but now those controllers are being expected to work some of the busiest traffic period of the day at mci. On feb/thu/07 mci's tower count for departures was 47 and arrival count was 15. The controller was expected to work clearance delivery for those 47 aircraft that departed between XA00 am to XC00 am. This was easily the busiest time period of the day for clearance delivery and the controller working it was probably the most tired controller in the facility! Solutions: management needs to return the shift to the old hours to allow the tired controller to go home and get some sleep. Fresh staffing (or fresh overtime employees) would staff the tower during this busiest period of the day. The shift needs to be in place in the tower when aircraft start calling for clrncs. Previous shift controllers should then be paid loss of meal break rather than staffing with a controller that really isn't needed until later. Overtime needs to be commonplace with the massive reduction in facility staffing. The facility should not function understaffed. Certain staffing numbers should be established and adhered to. The safety of the flying public should not be reduced due to the lack of controllers to 'break the chain' of a disastrous event.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: MCI CTLR EXPRESSED CONCERN REGARDING AVAILABLE FAC STAFFING AND RECENT SHIFT TIME CHANGES WHICH INCREASE WORKLOAD AND FATIGUE.
Narrative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
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of January 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.