Featured image: Michael Rodeback/Airways

FAA Issues Rules to Address ATC Fatigue Reports

DALLAS — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued new rules and guidelines to address reports of fatigue among air traffic controllers.

The new guidelines aim to lower the risk of exhaustion and burnout among controllers. According to FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker, the new requirements mandate that controllers take 12 hours off before midnight shifts and 10 hours off between shifts in general. These rules will be effective in 90 days.

The FAA's decision to implement these guidelines comes after commissioning a panel of fatigue experts in late 2023 to find ways to better address controller fatigue. The panel's 114-page report highlighted the impact of lack of sleep, particularly during night shifts, on safety and the potential for accidents.

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport tower with Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

NATCA Response

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has expressed both encouragement and disappointment regarding the FAA's actions.

While they appreciate the agency's response to the issue, they are concerned that the immediate implementation of the new guidelines could lead to scheduling gaps due to an already understaffed workforce.

NATCA warns that requiring controllers to work mandatory overtime to fill these gaps would increase fatigue and render the new policy ineffective.

The featured image shows the KSLC Tower; Delta Connection (SkyWest) Embraer E175.

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