Could new work and duty rules bump the need for pilots?

Sedona16

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Let’s say work rules that are actually based upon science that mitigates fatigue are implemented. It would seem there would be a lot of layovers where double crewing would be required over the single crew with shorter overnights now. Additionally, shorter duty days before timing out and restrictions on hours of flying after departing during the "extra fatiguing times" (redeye and early morning departures) that mess up circadian rhythm would further require more crew members. No doubt the airlines and ATA will fight this but perhaps this is the first little break to get things moving again after the pathetic age 65 rule was implemented. Thoughts?


FAA retools rules to keep pilots trained, refreshed

Fueled by a deadly crash, the FAA is retooling rules to keep pilots trained and feeling refreshed, greatly affecting airline operations.
A Federal Aviation Administration mandate for the rapid overhauling of pilot training and scheduling, prompted by outcries from February's deadly commuter crash near Buffalo, N.Y., could force major changes in how regional and major U.S. airlines operate.

The fast-track rewriting of air safety rules will pry open pilot performance reviews, alter schedules from rigid eight-hour shifts to a more flexible system based on sleep science, and push major carriers into a watchdog role with their commuter airline partners.

Safety officials have pressed for such a transformation since the mid-1990s, yet U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in Denver last week that the reforms will happen this time because of the "terrible, terrible, terrible" tragedy of the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo.
"The airline industry has gotten it. The people who fly their planes have gotten it," LaHood said in a meeting with the editorial board of The Denver Post. The airlines, LaHood said, "know what needs to be done, so they need to get with it."

The FAA offensive, spurred by investigators' concerns that the Buffalo pilots were fatigued, underpaid and poorly trained, promises change at carriers ranging from giant United to bankrupt Frontier to the little-known regionals like Mesaba that fly more than 50 percent of U.S. flights.

It also signals acceptance of decades-long warnings from researchers that pilot fatigue is a safety threat and can be attacked by new rules and better management. Experts liken the coming cockpit revolution to when drunken driving changed from a minor offense to a societal priority.

"Fatigue is the new alcohol problem. People are just starting to realize how dangerous it is," said John Caldwell, an international consultant to governments and industry on pilot medical issues.

Denver to host workshop

The Buffalo crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, killed 50 people on Feb. 12. It was the latest in a string of six fatal and several other serious accidents among regional carriers, each raising safety and fatigue questions.

Congressional hearings in mid-June pounded away at the pay structures, training regimens and safety practices of regional airlines, which carry 38 percent of Denver International Airport's traffic. Researchers also told Congress that new safety and duty rules could improve the performance at all airlines, small or big.

The FAA quickly ordered newly formed committees to write rules by Sept. 1, and Denver will host one of 10 regional workshops between the airlines, pilot and employee groups, and regulators.

Experts and industry sources say the safety overhaul will focus on a few key areas:

• The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board want airlines to have free access to reports of pilot failures on "check rides," where FAA-approved inspectors determine competency, before hiring a pilot or at specified intervals during the pilot's career.

The Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996 requires a hiring airline to request and evaluate information about a pilot's training and experience before hire. The pilot must give written consent to release the information, and if the waiver isn't given, the airline can cite failure to give full disclosure in denying employment.

If a pilot fails a check ride while employed by an airline, the information is provided to the airline because under FAA regulations the pilot cannot fly until after retraining and proficiency is demonstrated.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said the Colgan pilot had four check-ride failures before employment but had disclosed only one of them when he was hired.

• Since 1995, the FAA sought but failed to revise pilot flight schedules to reflect modern science on stress, fatigue, sleep patterns and actual flight conditions. Backing from Congress may finally force revisions to current rules, even though both pilots and carriers resist certain changes. A full application of "sleep science" may require that consumers accept the idea of pilots napping in cockpits, or using Ambien and other sleep drugs to help readjust their bodies for optimal alertness. (using Ambien is a ridiculous idea!)

Flight rules may for the first time reflect the time and energy it takes for far-flung pilots to commute to the beginning of their shift. Many pilots use DIA as a commuting station to flights that might begin in New York, Florida or California.

• Major carriers will have to play Big Brother to their regional airline partners by overseeing more training and additional safety checks, despite economic pressures on commuter carriers to fly cheaply.

Consumers who demand rock-bottom ticket prices may face higher fares to pay for better pilot training, altered shifts that force more crew hiring, and airline costs for software management systems or new supervisors.

"Safety has to come before economics," said Paul Rice, vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, representing 54,000 professional pilots.

"Regional airlines are safe, but there also is no question that it can be done better," Rice said.

Pay, training discrepancies

Safety and skill gaps at regional airlines will be hot spots for regulators in the coming months. The FAA has already announced tighter reviews of pilot training at regional carriers, which pay crews far less than mainline carriers and in the past have required less flying experience for new pilots.

Airline pilots on large jets can earn about $125,000 a year, a congressional staff report said, while regional captains earn $70,000 to $82,000. First officers, the second flier in the cockpit, start at only $24,000 a year at Colgan and other carriers.

New rules and industry pressure, meanwhile, may level some of the variances in pilot experience currently required by different airlines.

The FAA mandates the same minimum flying experience for new pilots at regional and major airlines: at least 250 hours of flight time for a commercial pilot certificate and 1,500 hours for an air transport pilot certificate to act as a pilot in command. Hiring practices vary widely, though, at each carrier.

"Many of our 31 airline members are at 500 (hours), many are at 750 and 1,000," said Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association.

Colgan required only 600 hours of experience when the Buffalo captain, Marvin Renslow, was hired, congressional staffers said in a report. Colgan has since raised it to 1,000 hours. Most major carriers in practice seek pilots with at least 4,000 hours, the report said.

Secretary LaHood said the flying public demands "the most-experienced pilot they can have and the most well-rested they can be."

Three major changes sought

In his testimony to congressional committees investigating the Buffalo crash, Caldwell of Fatigue Science consultants in Honolulu presented the position paper of the Aerospace Medical Association that recommended three major changes:

• Duty rules and flight schedules based on years of measuring pilot reaction and fatigue, rather than the current standard of eight hours of flight time in a 24-hour period.

"We know that an hour in the middle of the night is not the same as an hour in the middle of the day," Caldwell said. "We know that from science; we know that from practical experience."

Scientists are also learning to measure the great difference in stress between an eight-hour autopilot cruise over the ocean versus a shift with four or six takeoffs and landings at small commuter airports in trying weather.

• Cockpit naps. Studies have shown that 20- to 40-minute breaks, while another competent pilot is in control, make a major difference in subsequent performance. Allowing those breaks is one key to shift management and will become more important as manufacturers build planes capable of 16- or 20-hour nonstop flights.

"We don't need more studies, but moving that science into policies and systems is very difficult," said Curtis Graeber, a consultant and fellow of the Flight Safety Foundation.

• More extensive use of "hypnotic" sleep medications such as Ambien.

"Falling asleep during the day to get ready for another shift, it's just an operational necessity," said Caldwell. "You take an Ambien, and there is no drug hangover after eight hours. Do you want a pilot who was tossing and turning all day before his shift started? Frankly, I want a pilot who's had good sleep. We should authorize that."

Michael Booth: 303-954-1686 or mbooth@denverpost.com
http://www.denverpost.com/frontpage/ci_12755553
 
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PreContact

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This will be interesting to watch play out. Should affect our night ops if implemented as stated above.
 

SSDD

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All I see coming out of this is restrictions on commuting, and shorter duty days which will equal less pay.
 

Sedona16

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All I see coming out of this is restrictions on commuting, and shorter duty days which will equal less pay.
For line pilots like myself I say FIX THE WORK RULES AND GET THE PAY UP! It seems so counter productive to me when guys say don’t screw with the work rules because I won’t be able to put in enough hours to make a living. This in my mind is so messed up. Finishing trips dead tired or flying around like a zombie is no way to live. Change needs to happen and I think the time is now. Sure, bring the commuting rule fixes with it but get the dam work rules fixed and get the pay up. Then this job might turn into a good career again.
 

freightdogfred

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The upshot of this is there will be no more commuting. All pilots flying night freight will be required to live in Memphis or Louisville, to ensure they are rested for their trip. Things will be a little more lax on the daylight side but actually living in domicile will be required. Real estate in Louisville will increase 20% a two-fold benefit of the new legislation. No more free-loading freightdogs on the jumpseat!
 

lionflyer

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The upshot of this is there will be no more commuting. All pilots flying night freight will be required to live in Memphis or Louisville, to ensure they are rested for their trip. Things will be a little more lax on the daylight side but actually living in domicile will be required. Real estate in Louisville will increase 20% a two-fold benefit of the new legislation. No more free-loading freightdogs on the jumpseat!
How is the gov going to "require" pilots to live in domicile? Airlines could probably do by shutting off CASS and revoking pass benefits but that will create a $hitstorm unlike anything we've seen.
 

SkiFishFly

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My fear is that this will mean more days at work with less pay. I'm sure management is already thinking of ways to screw over the pilots with this.
 

pilotyip

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Simple answer. Same airline revenue ='s more pilots at less pay. Increased ticket prices to pay for more pilots ='s fewer riders, fewer trips, and fewer pilots at the same pay.
 

Linedriver

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If living in domicile is required I see fewer pilots staying that would have stayed years ago. The industry isn't the same.
 

scoreboardII

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There won't be any living in domicile rule.

There will be rest and duty day rules which will include commuting time.

Example, your commute plus duty day can't exceed your max duty day.

Get ready for the realization your going to need to jump in the day before work...
 

SSDD

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Exactly! That's all that's going to come out of this. Spending an extra night a week in a hotel or crashpad. That's how the government "fixes" things. For those who think this will be a pay, or hiring bonanza, wake up and join us in the real world!
 

B52GUNNER

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I have been in 4 different domiciles in 1 1/2 years. Downgraded.....displaced.....furloughed...recalled...No way of buying/selling houses and moving. I will commute until I am senior enough to hold a base for good. The way it's going, that will be never
 

Newjetjockey

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I think it could be a good thing which could lead to more productive schedules and less airport appreciation time if implemented correctly.

9 block hours if less than 4 legs.
Max scheduled duty day should be limited to 12 hours
Max duty not to exceed 14 instead of 16.
minimum 8 hours in hotel room or 10 hours on the ground.
Circadian rythem/sleep cycle respect. (No early shows then late shows then early shows)


Higher block hours could lead to less days at work. Commuters might get screwed on this since the FO on the colgan crash commuted from Seattle to fly her trip.
 

Lear70

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You'll see a very large backlash from the commuters, and it may have a very nasty side-effect for the airlines.

Most contracts have a "minimum day off" stipulation. If a commuting day would now count towards duty time, it's not a day off. Remember, Duty or "on call" is not rest - Whitlow interpretation. Therefore, a day off is ONLY one on which you did not fly OR commute, if commuting is now counted as duty.

So what happens to the guy who holds a 14 day off line, 16 days on, 4 4-day trips, uncommutable on BOTH sides for this rule? He just got chopped to 6 days off. Oh,,, wait,,, contract says 12 calendar days off minimum for lineholders.

2 choices: build all trips commutable, or remove me from one of my 4-days and pay protect me to bring me back up to 12 days off minimum. HUGE increase in staffing levels required.

Remember what I said in a thread a few months ago... EVERY SINGLE TIME you change a reg, there's fallout about 3 or 4 levels deep that NO ONE thought of when creating/modifying the reg.
 

lionflyer

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You'll see a very large backlash from the commuters, and it may have a very nasty side-effect for the airlines.

Most contracts have a "minimum day off" stipulation. If a commuting day would now count towards duty time, it's not a day off. Remember, Duty or "on call" is not rest - Whitlow interpretation. Therefore, a day off is ONLY one on which you did not fly OR commute, if commuting is now counted as duty.

So what happens to the guy who holds a 14 day off line, 16 days on, 4 4-day trips, uncommutable on BOTH sides for this rule? He just got chopped to 6 days off. Oh,,, wait,,, contract says 12 calendar days off minimum for lineholders.

2 choices: build all trips commutable, or remove me from one of my 4-days and pay protect me to bring me back up to 12 days off minimum. HUGE increase in staffing levels required.

Remember what I said in a thread a few months ago... EVERY SINGLE TIME you change a reg, there's fallout about 3 or 4 levels deep that NO ONE thought of when creating/modifying the reg.

"2 choices"??? If you try to throw the CBA at them, they will do as I said above: Shut off CASS and revoke your pass benies....and then you'll see the large backlash from commuters.
 

Paul R. Smith

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I have been in 4 different domiciles in 1 1/2 years. Downgraded.....displaced.....furloughed...recalled...No way of buying/selling houses and moving. I will commute until I am senior enough to hold a base for good. The way it's going, that will be never
Amen!

2 words: Home Basing bitches. Ok 3
 

Lear70

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"2 choices"??? If you try to throw the CBA at them, they will do as I said above: Shut off CASS and revoke your pass benies....and then you'll see the large backlash from commuters.
They could try...

Don't think it would get them very far. Shutting off CASS and revoking pass benefits is akin to "cutting off your nose to spite your face". You're saying they'd DELIBERATELY cut off 70% of their pilot force from being able to get to work?

No other way to say it, after 17+ years in the business, I completely disagree with you.
 

SFR

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So somebody that commutes on plane has to fly in the day before? What about a pilot that drives 6 hours to the airport, does that count as duty? Driving is more tiring than non-reving.
 

igneousy2

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You'll see a very large backlash from the commuters, and it may have a very nasty side-effect for the airlines.

Most contracts have a "minimum day off" stipulation. If a commuting day would now count towards duty time, it's not a day off. Remember, Duty or "on call" is not rest - Whitlow interpretation. Therefore, a day off is ONLY one on which you did not fly OR commute, if commuting is now counted as duty.

So what happens to the guy who holds a 14 day off line, 16 days on, 4 4-day trips, uncommutable on BOTH sides for this rule? He just got chopped to 6 days off. Oh,,, wait,,, contract says 12 calendar days off minimum for lineholders.

2 choices: build all trips commutable, or remove me from one of my 4-days and pay protect me to bring me back up to 12 days off minimum. HUGE increase in staffing levels required.

Remember what I said in a thread a few months ago... EVERY SINGLE TIME you change a reg, there's fallout about 3 or 4 levels deep that NO ONE thought of when creating/modifying the reg.
Sorry but Whitlow would not apply. First, Whitlow would more than likely be out the window as the rule that Whitlow interprets would more than likely change...making Whitlow moot. Second, even if Whitlow were to somehow stay applicable, Whitlow says nothing about how your contract would be interpreted. In fact, "established-past-practice" would tend to favor your commute not being counted.

I doubt any rule about commuting will have a long-term impact on pay/hiring at least at the major level. Real Estate prices in Memphis/Louisville...now I think there may be something there.
 
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