Federal officials announced changes to air traffic controller
scheduling practices, a move they say will allow controllers more time
for rest between shifts.
The new scheduling rules, which have already been put in place and
will be fully in effect by the end of the week, include mandating at
least nine hours off between controllers' shifts and prohibiting
controllers from switching to an unscheduled midnight shift following
a day off.
“We expect controllers to come to work rested and ready to work and
take personal responsibility for safety in the control towers. We have
zero tolerance for sleeping on the job,” Secretary of Transportation
Ray LaHood said in a news release. “Safety is our top priority and we
will continue to make whatever changes are necessary.”
In addition, controllers will no longer be able to swap shifts unless
they have a minimum of nine hours off between the last shift they
worked and the one they want to begin and FAA managers will schedule
their own shifts so as to ensure greater coverage in the early morning
and late night hours.
“Research shows us that giving people the chance for even an
additional one hour of rest during critical periods in a schedule can
improve work performance and reduce the potential for fatigue,” FAA
Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a news release. “Taking advantage
of the time you have to rest is also a professional responsibility.”