On Friday, a new agreement on fatigue recommendations was announced by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in the aftermath of several incidents involving controllers falling asleep on the job.
New rules have brought about other things such as the one that the air traffic controllers will now be allowed to listen to the radio and read appropriate printed material while on duty during the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. as traffic permits. It also allows controllers to request leave of absence if they are fatigued.
Further reinforcement was done to the existing FAA policy which prohibits sleeping while performing their duties and will also allow the FAA controllers breaks on the midnight shift based on staffing and workload.
The Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that, “The American public must have confidence that our nation’s air traffic controllers are rested and ready to work,” and also added that, “We have the safest air transportation system in the world, but we needed to make changes and we are doing that.”
To ensure nine hours off between shifts, the FAA has already changed air traffic controllers’ work schedules and controllers cannot be put on an unscheduled midnight shift following a day off.
By September 1, 2012 the new schedules slated will be implemented.
According to aviation authorities, a “Fatigue Risk Management System” for air traffic operations should be in place by next January.
Report by Sumit