Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

121 Max Duty Time

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Jan 14, 2002
A colleague recently ran into the following scenario:

His crew was close to 15 hours of duty when he was to fly his last leg to the overnight. Let's say 1445 of duty. Let's say the scheduled leg was for 1h10m and add the extra 15 minutes for dutying off we, as pilots are taught that we can't do this leg b/c it would be greater than 16 hours. The chief pilot says that yes he could do the flight b/c it goes by ETE (estimated time enroute) which is on the release, not by what is scheduled in the bid packet. Does anyone have any insight on this? It is my understanding that 16 is a limitaion that cannot be extended for any reason.

Was the crew scheduled atthe beginning of the day to complete within the allowable duty day? If they were and took unforeseen delays they could legally complete the trip.
I'll go with the Chief Pilot on this one. The dispatch release ETE should take into account the conditions expected enroute. As long as the ETE + 0:15 at the end of the day would not exceed the 16 hours, he would be legal to take the last leg.

I do not agree with pilotyip's answer. The unforseen delays provision does NOT apply to minimum rest limits but only to flight time limits. If the crew winds up with less than 8 hours rest at the end of the day, they are wrong. See the legal opinion rendered to of American Ailines' APA President's inquiry on this subject (following the Little Rock crash).
Take a look at www.alpa.org. You will find the latest and greatest about rest / duty times there.

In short, the Federal Register May 17, 2001 stated that you cannot extend your duty time for ANY reason. Your ops manual must say when your duty begins and ends. Commonly 30-60 minutes prior to scheduled block out and 15 minutes after actual block in.

Your example of having 1:15 left of duty time. If the ETE on your flight release is 1:00 and your takeoff is not delayed, then you are legal. However, if you are holding short of the runway and based on information that is available to you, realize that you will exceed your duty time, you could NOT legally depart.

I have copied and pasted the below info from ALPA.ORG.

Important FAA Interpretation Limits Maximum Continuous Duty Day to 16 Hours

The Federal Aviation Administration has closed a regulatory loophole used by some airlines to keep pilots on duty indefinitely. The November 20, 2000 ruling by the FAA’s Deputy Chief Counsel interpreted 14 CFR 121.471(b), clarifying that 16 hours is the maximum time a pilot can remain on duty, regardless of delays caused by weather, air traffic control, or maintenance.

Current domestic FAA regulations limit scheduled flight time to a maximum of eight hours in a single duty period, with an exception allowing the eight-hour limitation to be exceeded "due to circumstances beyond the control of the carrier." However, another rule requires pilots to "look back" after every arrival and find at least an eight-hour scheduled rest period during the previous 24 hours.

In a recent FAA interpretation, FAA Deputy Chief Counsel James Whitlow wrote, "If, when using the actual expected flight time [for a segment], the carrier cannot find at least eight hours of look-back rest upon arrival, then the flight may not depart [on that segment]."

With regard to delays, the interpretation states, "If, when this information is factored in, it is known or should be known that arrival based upon the actual expected flight time will not result in at least 8 hours of look-back rest, then the flight may not leave the gate. If the flight is away from the gate, but not yet in the air, then the flight may not take off." The ruling therefore requires pilots and airlines to continuously monitor delays, particularly during lengthy duty periods, to ensure that a flight will not violate the rest requirements under the FAA regulations.

Full text of the letter dated November 20, 2000 from FAA Deputy Chief Counsel Whitlow

Hope this helps.

Fly Safe,

Corp Pilot
The answer is very simple..

If the crew can look back when they block in +15 minutes, and see 8 hours of rest within the preceding 24 hours, they are legal. If they cannot, they are not legal.

Again, when their duty day is up, they MUST be able to look back 24 hours and see 8 hours of rest. The regs do not give a 16 hour duty day, they simply state how much rest we must have in a continual 24 hour period.
The regs DO give a 16 hour duty day limitation. It was interpreted by the FAA as seen in the post by corp pilot.

Latest resources