Washington (CNN) -- Air traffic controllers are facing a slew of new rules aimed at preventing them from falling asleep while on duty, the government announced on April 17.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Traffic Controllers Union agreed to implement the changes effective immediately, following a series of recent incidents involving sleeping air traffic controllers.
Controllers will now have a minimum of nine hours off between shifts, instead of the current eight-hour minimum, LaHood said. That will apply when they swap shifts as well. Controllers can no longer be put on an unscheduled midnight shift following a day off.
FAA managers will schedule their own shifts in a way to ensure greater coverage in the early morning and late night hours as well, LaHood said.
On April 16, the FAA suspended yet another air traffic controller for sleeping on the job, the seventh apparent incident this year the agency has disclosed.