FAA Makes Changes To Keep Air Traffic Controllers From Falling Asleep On The Job

Following a rash of incidents — like this one and this one — where air traffic controllers were caught snoozing on the job, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued some new rules that will hopefully give the controllers more rest and more supervision.

The main changes:
* Instead of the minimum of eight hours off between shifts, air traffic controllers now get a guaranteed nine.

* That means controllers can’t swap shifts with other controllers unless the replacement controller will have had the minimum of nine hours off.

* Controllers will no longer be able to switch to an unscheduled midnight shift following a day off.

* FAA managers are now being tasked with scheduling their shifts so as to “ensure greater coverage in the early morning and late night hours.”

Explains Secretary of Transportation (and friend of Consumerist Ray LaHood:

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… Safety is our top priority and we will continue to make whatever changes are necessary.

Do you think the extra hour is going to make a difference to the air traffic controllers? If not, how long do you think controllers should be required to rest between shifts?

FAA Announces Changes to Controller Scheduling [FAA]