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Sen. Boxer & Snowe Introduced Cargo Pilots Rest Rules, The Safe Skies Act 2012
By Daniel Baxter

June 6, 2012 - U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) on Tuesday introduced the Safe Skies Act, legislation designed to ensure that America’s cargo plane pilots are sufficiently rested before they fly. 

Senator Boxer said, “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that pilots of cargo planes are well-rested before they get in the cockpit. I am pleased to join so many of our nation’s passenger and cargo plane pilots who have come together to support this important safety bill.” 

“As research from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee clearly shows, it is vital that pilots have time to sleep and recuperate before returning to flight,” said Senator Snowe.  

“The FAA rules that prohibit pilots of passenger flights from flying while fatigued that are scheduled to go into effect in 2014 must also be extended to cover cargo plane pilots. I am pleased to join with Senator Boxer in introducing this bipartisan legislation so we can continue to ensure and improve safety in our skies.” 

In 2009, Senators Boxer and Snowe introduced S. 1284, the Ensuring One Level of Aviation Safety Act, which was passed as part of H.R. 5900, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act.  

Based on this legislation, the Department of Transportation recently issued a rule to address pilot fatigue issues. The rule, which will prohibit pilots of passenger planes from flying while fatigued, is scheduled to go into effect in January of 2014. Under the rule, pilots of passenger planes will be limited to flying eight or nine hours, depending on the start time. Minimum rest periods will be 10 hours, with the opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.



However, as it currently stands, pilots of cargo planes would be exempt from this new rule. This exemption allows cargo pilots to be on duty for up to 16 hours in a given day. The new Boxer-Snowe legislation would close this loophole and ensure that all pilots are flying under the same standards. The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations all support the Boxer-Snowe bill. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Chip Cravaack (R-MN) and Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY). 

“The Air Line Pilots Association applauds Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for their commitment to aviation safety and leadership in moving this important legislation forward,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Int’l. If enacted, the bill would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to apply the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight- and duty-time regulations and minimum rest requirements to all-cargo airline operations in the same way that the regulations currently apply to passenger operations. 

The Safe Skies Act was introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives in April, and ALPA is working with lawmakers to urge Congress to take up and pass the bill in both Houses of Congress as swiftly as possible. “ALPA staunchly supports this science-based, common-sense bill, which would afford all airline pilots—regardless of whether they fly passengers or cargo—equal protections from fatigue under the new federal pilot flight- and duty-time regulations.” Moak said. ALPA has long advocated for one level of safety for all types of flight operations, and is fully engaged in efforts to achieve this goal across the U.S. airline industry.

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