Air traffic controllers get a break every 2 hours. When controllers remain “on position” for more than 2 hours without a break, performance can deteriorate rapidly, even at low traffic levels.

Air traffic controller

Many countries regulate work hours to ensure that controllers are able to remain focused and effective. Research has shown that when controllers remain “on position” for more than two hours without a break, performance can deteriorate rapidly, even at low traffic levels. Many national regulations therefore require breaks at least every two hours. Sylvia Noble Tesh documented the stresses and challenges faced by air traffic controller’s in her 1984 study “The politics of stress: the case of air traffic control.” published in the International journal of health services.

Computerization and the future

See also: Next Generation Air Transportation System

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8 thoughts on “Air traffic controllers get a break every 2 hours. When controllers remain “on position” for more than 2 hours without a break, performance can deteriorate rapidly, even at low traffic levels.”

  1. Habanero_Eyeball

    As a student pilot one of the hardest things to learn for me was the damned radio. Maybe it gets easier but I swear during one training flight my instructor said “Are you going to answer that call or would you like me to?” and I thought “OMG what call?” I didn’t even hear the ATC’s voice.

  2. EvictYou

    I learned this dynamic from the movie “Summer Rental”

    6.5/10 – would watch again on youtube with ads

  3. ZookeeperZero

    Spent a shift in the tower in Phoenix, AZ with my uncle in the late 80s. I thought it was cool but by the end of the shift, even I felt some of the stress from the other controllers.

  4. ktut

    ATC in the US are unionized. NATCA.

  5. Conflictedbiscuit

    Any flight controllers who can give personal experience on how quickly it feels like those two hours go?

  6. TheRynoceros

    “We wouldn’t allow our employees to take breaks if lives weren’t at stake.”

  7. starfeeesh_

    Yup, my dad was an ATC for 30 years. He’s probably the most chill person I’ve ever met and it was still stressful for him.

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