V.D. Flight Time Limits and Rest Requirements

The FAA proposed that the part 121 domestic flight time limits

and rest requirements would apply to affected commuter operators when

conducting operations within the United States. Under the proposal

affected commuter operators, when conducting operations to or from the

United States, would comply with the flag flight time limitations and

rest requirements of subpart R. Additionally, if these certificate

holders use these same airplanes for nonscheduled operations, those

certificate holders would be required to comply with supplemental

flight time limitations and rest requirements of subpart S of part


As stated in Notice 95-5, since the flight time limitations and

rest requirements for flag and supplemental operations were not

updated in 1985 when domestic limits were, the FAA has developed an

NPRM that is being issued concurrently with this final rule. (See

elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.)

Comments: Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), Regional Airlines

Association (RAA), and Big Sky Airlines comment that the FAA should

provide specific and scientifically-based data to support this

significant change. Fairchild Aircraft adds that the additional time

off duty provided by the proposal will not necessarily be used for

rest. NATA comments that there are differences in part 135 operations

that justify a different set of flight time limitations and rest

requirements: part 135 operations are generally confined to a

particular area, pilots of smaller certificate holders rarely commute

a long distance to and from work, and pilots have fewer overnight

stays as part of their schedules. Air Vegas comments that unless an

exception is provided, seasonal operators would have to hire

additional crews in order not to exceed the 7-day limit of 30 hours or

the monthly limit of 120 hours. This commenter notes that short-term

employment of such pilots is next to impossible. Morton Beyer and

Associates comments that the cost of hiring additional pilots is

expected to add another $250 million to airline costs. Twin Otter

International comments that the 1,200 yearly limit in part 135 is

based on the part 121 100-hour-per-month concept, and that the

regulations really are similar.

Several individuals strongly urge the FAA to adopt the part 121

standards for the upgrading commuter pilots. American Eagle comments

that it applies part 121 domestic rules to its part 135 operations and

believes that all air carriers providing commercial passenger service

should use either the domestic or flag rules of part 121.

One individual notes that the reduced rest provision in part 135

allows for only 8 hours of rest between scheduled flights. Another

individual comments that commuter pilots have a high frequency of

takeoffs and landings, fly in the busier low-altitude airspace, deal

with more controllers per flight mile, and deal with more weather than

their part 121 counterparts. One person comments that certificate

holders routinely schedule 3-4 hour breaks to preclude violations of

the 8 hours of flight in 24 hours rule; however, the effect of this

is to stretch out the duty day. The result is a higher duty time to

flight time ratio which is not accounted for in the current rules.

IAPA supports the proposal but also expresses concern that the current

regulations fail to count, as part of duty time, the time period when

flightcrews are on reserve duty, standby duty, or carrying a pager or

other telephonic device. IAPA urges the FAA to treat reserve or

standby duty as duty time.

ALPA comments that while the upgrade to part 121 will result in

an improvement in flight time limits and rest requirements, part 121

will continue to be deficient in this area until additional rulemaking

action is taken, as promised by the FAA.

Alaska commenters argue for maintaining the current regulations.

ERA Aviation estimates that if the proposed rule is adopted, it would

necessitate at least a 15% increase in the number of pilots it would

need, resulting in a $500,000+ increase in costs. Penair finds four

reasons for excepting Alaska: operations are conducted in the same

time zone, few Alaska pilots commute to their jobs, less than 5% of

Alaska operations occur between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and Alaska

does not have the congested ATC operations which are found in the

lower 48 states. AACA also presents this argument, adding that going

from 1,400 hours of duty per year down to 1,000 represents a 29%

decrease in productivity. Other Alaska certificate holders, e.g.,

Wings, Northern Air Cargo, Taquan Air Service, Tanana, endorse the

AACA comment.

One individual commenter from Alaska opposes any attempt to

create exceptions to the requirements for Alaska. This person

supports the assertion that Alaskan operations are basically the same

as state-side operations and should be afforded no special exemptions.

This individual, a pilot who flew over 1,300 hours last year,

states that there were many consecutively scheduled 14-hour duty days

and many canceled days off. Ten hours of rest may sound adequate, but

not for days on end. The individual questions the logic that one is

more rested in one geographic area than in another. According to the

commenter, duty cycles that are unsafe in the lower 48, are also

unsafe in Alaska.

Another individual from Alaska states that the FAA has shown no

data to indicate any problem with the provisions of § 135.261(b),

which allows Alaskan scheduled operators to use § 135.267. The

individual states that in 1994, he flew 1320 hours, had 173 days off,

slept in his own bed every night, and never had less than 10

continuous hours of rest in any 24-hour period. He believes he

probably had more rest and time off than the average long-haul part

121 pilot. The commenter states that the proposed flight/duty time

limits would cause scheduling nightmares for operations in

rural/remote parts of Alaska.

FAA Response: The FAA is holding in abeyance a final decision on

the proposed imposition of current part 121 flight time limitations

and rest requirements on affected commuters pending a review and

disposition of comments on the separate flight and duty rulemaking in

which the FAA proposes to overhaul all the flight and duty rules. The

separate rulemaking, if adopted, would harmonize flight and rest

requirements for all part 121 and part 135 carriers. The FAA

anticipates that the separate rulemaking will result in a net cost

savings to the industry as a whole. In the meantime, affected

commuters will continue to operate under the current part 135 flight

and duty rules. This will prevent needless expenditure of resources

by affected commuters who would have to implement flight and rest

provisions under the commuter rule proposal and then later might have

to change their system to comply with the separate rulemaking. For

the same reasons the FAA will allow part 121 certificate holders

operating in Alaska and Hawaii to continue to follow the flight and

duty rules of part 121 applicable to flag operations, even though

under this rulemaking these certificate holders are now classified as

conducting domestic operations.

Accordingly, §§ 121.470, 121.480, and 121.500 include an

exception for affected commuters allowing that they continue to comply

with flight time limits and rest requirements of part 135.

Additionally, § 121.470 will allow existing Alaska and Hawaii

intrastate scheduled domestic operations to continue to be conducted

under flag rules.