Air controllers to get more rest between shifts

WASHINGTON (AP) - New work rules announced by the government today give air traffic controllers more time to rest between shifts.

It's an effort to ward off sleepiness that has afflicted some controllers who work overnight. In recent months there have been five instances of controllers dozing off while on duty, including one early yesterday in Miami.

The new rules give controllers at least nine hours off between shifts, compared with eight now. Controllers won't be able to swap shifts to get a long weekend unless they get at least nine hours off.

More managers will also be on duty to remind controllers that nodding off is unacceptable.

But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is drawing the line at scheduling nap time on the job, a solution some experts suggest.

LaHood tells "Fox News Sunday" that on his watch, "controllers will not be paid to take naps."

An upcoming study by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Air Traffic Controllers Association is expected to recommend that controllers take sleeping breaks of as long as 2½ hours during overnight shifts.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)