FAA: More Rest for Controllers

An extra hour of sleep is all they needed? The Federal Aviation Administration announced a new schedule that gives air traffic controllers at least nine hours off between shifts, compared with eight now. It also bans controllers form swapping shifts to get a long weekend unless there's at least nine hours off from the end of one shift to the start of the other. Still, despite studies and expert recommendations that suggest scheduled sleep can help fight fatigue, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood firm against mid-shift naps, saying, "On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps.” An upcoming study by the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is expected to recommend that controllers take sleeping breaks of up to 2 ½ hours during midnight shifts. Other countries, such as Germany and Japan, schedule in naps, and even provide sleeping rooms for controllers on break during night shifts. Five air traffic controllers have dozed off while on duty in recent months, the latest in Miami early Saturday.