US air safety agency requires more down time for traffic controllers

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 10:21 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will require 10 hours off between shifts for air traffic controllers, and 12 hours off before a midnight shift, effective in 90 days, the agency’s head said on Friday.

“In my first few months at the helm of the FAA, I toured air traffic control facilities around the country — and heard concerns about schedules that do not always allow controllers to get enough rest,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a statement.

“With the safety of our controllers and national airspace always top of mind for FAA, I took this very seriously – and we’re taking action.”

The FAA in 2023 commissioned an independent panel to assess the risks of controller fatigue and provide recommendations, which included between 10 and 12 hours off between shifts.To alleviate pressure on the workforce, Whitaker said the FAA had ramped up recruitment and was on track to meet a 2024 goal of hiring 1,800 air traffic controllers, up from 1,500 last year.”I understand this lengthened rest period will be an adjustment for thousands of our air traffic controllers,” Whitaker said in the statement.

(Reporting by David Ljungren and Ismail Shakil; writing by Paul Grant; Editing by Caitlin Webber)