The sweeping final rules on the fatigue issue include minimum 10-hour rest periods and new definitions of what constitutes flight and on-duty time.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a written statement the rule "raises the safety bar to prevent fatigue."
The Transportation Department said along with the 10-hour rest requirement, the rules provide flexibility in defining what the appropriate hours are; they range from 9-14 hours depending on the length of the flight and how many time zones they will be crossing.
The rules do not apply to cargo carriers due to the costs; however, LaHood and Michael Huerta, acting administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, urged cargo airlines to opt into the program voluntarily.
"Every pilot has a personal responsibility to arrive at work fit for duty," said Huerta. "This new rule gives pilots enough time to get the rest they really need to safely get passengers to their destinations."