Sleeping Boeing Field controller fired

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SEATTLE -- A Boeing Field air traffic controller who fell asleep on two separate occasions this year has been fired by the FAA.

The first incident happened Jan. 6, when the FAA said the controller actually fell asleep twice while on shift. The second incident happened April 11. In the latest incident, the controller was monitoring local traffic while two other controllers were working on arriving and departing flights, the FAA said.

Federal officials have been dealing with backlash from several reported cases across the country of controllers falling asleep while on shift.

But, a federal safety investigator says on-the-job naps should be considered as part of a plan to address fatigue by air traffic controllers, airline pilots and others who work overnight shifts.

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said there is a wealth of scientific studies that show short naps of between 20 and 30 minutes refresh workers suffering fatigue and help them remain alert when they return to their duties. Rosekind is an internationally recognized fatigue expert who formerly worked for NASA and directed a sleep research center at Stanford University.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has said he won't sanction on-the-job naps.