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UPS Pilots Give Oral Argument Before Court On Cargo Exclusion From Rest Rule

March 7, 2016 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral argument today for the Independent Pilots Association (UPS pilots) in its lawsuit challenging the FAA's decision to exclude all-cargo operators from the new Flight crew Member Duty and Rest Requirements.

The following statement is from the IPA General Counsel William Trent: "It's taken four years to get our day in court, but UPS pilots are ready to outline our case for one level of aviation safety. The arguments we will be making before the court today are:

1) The FAA failed to execute Congress' command to promulgate regulations that address the acknowledged problems relating to pilot fatigue in all-cargo operations.

Congress directed the FAA to 'issue regulations, based on the best available scientific information, to specify limitations on the hours of flight and duty time allowed for pilots to address problems relating to pilot fatigue.

2) The scientific information on fatigue does not support the FAA's exclusion of all-cargo operators from the final rule. The FAA's decision to leave all-cargo operations subject to the old Part 121 rules also violates the Safety Act because the decision leaves cargo pilots subject to rules that do not reflect the 'best available scientific information' about pilot fatigue, and

3) The FAA impermissibly relied on a cost-benefit analysis to ignore Congress' directive to utilize scientific information on pilot fatigue. Importantly, however, the IPA does not seek to overturn the new Part 117 rules as they relate to passenger operations, but only to have the Court order the FAA to reconsider the inclusion of cargo operations consistent with its mandate from Congress."



Back in December 2011, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta had announced a sweeping final rule that overhauls commercial passenger airline pilot scheduling to ensure pilots have a longer opportunity for rest before they enter the cockpit. This rule does not apply to pilots operating under cargo operations. The key components of this final rule for commercial passenger flights include:

Varying requirements based on the type of flight and time of day it begins. The new rule incorporates the latest fatigue science to set different requirements for pilot flight time, duty period and rest based on the time of day pilots begin their first flight, the number of scheduled flight segments and the number of time zones they cross. The previous rules included different rest requirements for domestic, international and unscheduled flights. Those differences were not necessarily consistent across different types of passenger flights, and did not take into account factors such as start time and time zone crossings.

Flight duty period. The allowable length of a flight duty period depends on when the pilot's day begins and the number of flight segments he or she is expected to fly, and ranges from 9-14 hours for single crew operations. The flight duty period begins when a flightcrew member is required to report for duty with the intention of conducting a flight and ends when the aircraft is parked after the last flight. It includes the period of time before a flight or between flights that a pilot is working without an intervening rest period. Flight duty includes deadhead transportation, training in an aircraft or flight simulator, and airport standby or reserve duty if these tasks occur before a flight or between flights without an intervening required rest period.

Flight time limits of eight or nine hours. The FAA limits flight time when the plane is moving under its own power before, during or after flight to eight or nine hours depending on the start time of the pilot's entire flight duty period. 10-hour minimum rest period. The rule sets a 10-hour minimum rest period prior to the flight duty period, a two-hour increase over the previous rules. The new rule also mandates that a pilot must have an opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep within the 10-hour rest period.

New cumulative flight duty and flight time limits. The new rule addresses potential cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a pilot may be assigned any type of flight duty. The rule also places 28-day and annual limits on actual flight time. It also requires that pilots have at least 30 consecutive hours free from duty on a weekly basis, a 25 percent increase over the previous rules.

Fitness for duty. The FAA expects pilots and airlines to take joint responsibility when considering if a pilot is fit for duty, including fatigue resulting from pre-duty activities such as commuting. At the beginning of each flight segment, a pilot is required to affirmatively state his or her fitness for duty. If a pilot reports he or she is fatigued and unfit for duty, the airline must remove that pilot from duty immediately.

Fatigue Risk Management System. An airline may develop an alternative way of mitigating fatigue based on science and using data that must be validated by the FAA and continuously monitored. In 2010, Congress mandated a Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP) for all airlines, and the carriers have developed these plans based on FAA guidance materials. An FRMP provides education for pilots and airlines to help address the effects of fatigue, which can be caused by overwork, commuting, or other activities. Airlines will be required to train pilots about the potential effects of commuting.

Required training updates every two years will include fatigue mitigation measures, sleep fundamentals and the impact to a pilot's performance. The training will also address how fatigue is influenced by lifestyle — including nutrition, exercise, and family life — as well as by sleep disorders and the impact of commuting.
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