Air traffic controllers suffer from lifestyle diseases | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Air traffic controllers suffer from lifestyle diseases

mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2011 01:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Around 60% of the air traffic control (ATC) officials, who underwent health check-up at a medical camp organised by a private hospital on Wednesday, were found to be suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

The free camp has been organised by Kohinoor hospital for the Airports Authority of India employees at New Airport Colony in Vile Parle for the occasion of World Heart Day.

Basing their conclusions on the blood pressure reports, electro cardiogram (ECG) graphs and blood sugar tests, of the 25 air traffic controllers, doctors said 15 had high diabetes and hypertension.

At least 120 more ATC officials will undergo check-up on Thursday.

"Erratic timings and pressure are the main cause of the ailments," said Dr Pradnya Gawde, consulting physician at the camp.

The ATC officials have highly stressful jobs, handling about 2,000 flight movements each day. This includes 700 flights taking off and landing in the city and several others passing through the Mumbai air space.

"A controller on duty handles a flight movement every three minutes," said an ATC official, requesting anonymity.

As most air traffic managers at India's second busiest airport are over 45 years old, such ailments are common, doctors said.

The AAI recently hired a batch of young ATC officials, who are undergoing an eight-month training. "It takes two years to prepare a fresh recruit for the job," said PK Nagpal, regional director, AAI.

Nagpal said the data from the medical camp would help understand fatigue levels and plan a corrective action.

Currently, the city airport has 216 air traffic managers, 10 short of the number allocated by the AAI. Officials said 100 more controllers would join the team by next year when the unit moves into the new ATC tower opposite the domestic terminals.

Work fatigue is a common issue among air traffic controllers, and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation passed an order in July reducing their work hours from 42 hours to 36 hours a week. However, the rule is yet to be implemented owing to staff shortage.

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