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

new crew rest rules

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
Can't access the article without having a subscription, can you copy and paste it?

Reducing pilot fatigue is a top priority for U.S. airline regulators. But new rules are being delayed by disagreements within the Obama administration over whether the anticipated safety improvements would justify the cost to airlines.

When U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt last summer launched a drive to update decades-old rules covering how many hours a day U.S. airline pilots can fly or remain on duty, the agency hoped to release draft regulations by early 2010.

That date later slipped by several months, but Mr. Babbitt and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continued to say that keeping sleepy pilots away from the controls was essential. With Congress also prodding the FAA to move quickly, they talked about expedited White House review of regulatory changes.

Now, according to industry and government officials, the proposed changes are snagged by a dispute between the FAA and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Budget officials have informally told the FAA that the proposal's projected cost to airlines wasn't justified by the anticipated safety benefits, according to people familiar with the details. As a result, there could be further delays in agreeing on a package.

The FAA's proposals could cost carriers billions of extra dollars through the next decade. But if the agency scales back the proposal to reduce likely costs, FAA and outside experts fear it would undercut basic safety goals. If that happens, some pilots' unions have threatened to oppose the entire package.

The tussle already has added to the friction between aviation regulators and officials at the budget office. Unless high-level administration officials break the logjam, people familiar with the details said, public release of the proposed rules could be delayed for months.

The FAA continues to push for speedy action. But according to the latest projected timetable released by the Department of Transportation, it could take until fall to issue a draft rule. Fielding public comments could take months longer.

An FAA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the proposed rules "are in administration coordination," but she declined to elaborate. "This is a complex issue and we want this done right," she said.

Department of Transportation officials also have declined to provide details about the timetable. A spokesman for the budget office said it hadn't yet received a formal request for review and "we don't have a specific time frame." The spokesman declined to comment on discussions that have taken place with regulators.

The FAA wants to jettison outdated rules that set uniform limits on pilot work schedules, replacing them with more flexible rules based on scientific studies about what causes fatigue.

Labor and management representatives agreed on the broad outlines of such an approach last September, giving the FAA more confidence that it could come up with a package that had a good chance of gaining final approval.

The proposals seek to limit flight hours and the length of duty days based on the time of day, internal body clocks of pilots and how many takeoffs and landings they are scheduled to perform in a 24-hour period.

Such changes, intended to bring U.S. requirements more in line with European cockpit-fatigue rules, would be particularly costly for commuter airlines. Those carriers fly shorter routes and tend to give pilots more grueling schedules, with multiple takeoffs and landings each day.

The dispute over cockpit-fatigue rules is part of a broader debate over how to measure prospective safety improvements when U.S. commercial aviation already is so safe that there aren't any fatal accidents in some years.

FAA regulators consider cockpit fatigue one of the most pressing safety hazards and point to a long list of harrowing incidents and accidents in which fatigue was a significant factor. In recent years, lawmakers, federal investigators and outside safety experts have intensified their calls for new fatigue regulations.
Most of us agree that fatigue is a real problem, maybe a little more so at the regional level (121). I think by now most of us can see that the fallout from the Colgan accident didn't go as far as we would have liked- in terms of a clear, positive solution to this problem. The WSJ article exposes this fact. In case any of you are still disillusioned, very little will change unless it's forced to change.

'National Pilot Safety Awareness Day' would be a great start to a campaign BY pilots to raise awareness of safety issues. One or two days this year, arranged separately from unions, NOBODY show up for work. Call me crazy, but can you honestly say that anything else will fix the problem? We had a tragic accident, plenty of media attention, and where did that get us? Right back to square one. Politicians and big business are calling the shots, but we (collectively) hold the key. We're not asking for a raise (separate issue), we're simply trying to raise the awareness of the flying public that if this issue is not properly addressed SOON, there will likely be more accidents. When pilots scream for more money, most folks tune out. But when pilots don't show up for work one day to raise awareness of obvious safety issues that aren't being addressed, I think most people will be supportive. I'm somewhat familiar with aviation history, and I don't recall that it's ever been attempted- at least not in the past couple of generations.

Before dismissing this as too radical, consider the alternative. The status quo is not working. What else is left?
Totally unacceptable that a crash happened and it is taking this long...seriously what needs to happen for those politicians/Govt. to change these fatigue rules? As bad as it sounds..what if one of the politician's daughters was on that plane in buffalo? Oh I bet we would then see a fast change to the rules.
The lobbyists and airlines only care about safety when it doesnt affect their bottom line. Safety is merely a play on words. The events post-Buffalo are proof of this. I call it "The Tombstone Theory".
The lobbyists and airlines only care about safety when it doesnt affect their bottom line. Safety is merely a play on words. The events post-Buffalo are proof of this. I call it "The Tombstone Theory".

Be careful what you wish for folks. 3 days don't have much room for rest. Long overnights lead to more work days for the same pay. Just like minimum days off in a contract lead to fewer overall days off, for instance. (Socializing the days off from the senior lines down to the junior lines. Fewer 21 day off trips, but a lot of 14-16 day off trips, etc.)

Just pointing that out.

I'm all for rest rules, but they may carry some baggage along with them.

Latest resources