US Airways Pilots Express Concern Over The FAA's New Rest Rules


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US Airways Pilots Express Concern Over The FAA's New Rest Rules

By Mike Mitchell

December 28, 2011 - The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), representing the pilots of US Airways, expresses concerns over the new FAA Flight and Duty Time rule addressing pilot crew rest. The new rule is the result of efforts to address pilot fatigue, brought to light primarily as a result of the fatal accident of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo, NY that occurred in May 2009.

USAPA welcomes the publication of the long overdue rest rule, and acknowledges that positive steps were taken to mitigate fatigue in last Wednesday?s final ruling. However, USAPA believes some areas of the rule are in conflict with the stated goal of the improving passenger safety.

In response to the release of the new rest rules, USAPA President Captain Mike Cleary stated, "The new rule demonstrates troubling inconsistencies in its application to cargo operations and, therefore, fails to meet the FAA?s stated goal of One Level of Safety.

Congress directed the FAA to create new science-based flight and duty rules to appropriately establish one level of aviation safety to protect the public. Under intense pressure from the cargo industry lobby, the FAA has failed to carry out this basic congressional mandate. Pilots work in a complex environment where a poor decision due to fatigue of one flight crew can magnify and affect the lives of many (see UPS Pilots File An Appeals Challenge To FAA Final Flight & Duty Rule). 

The final rule exempts cargo carriers from adhering to the flight and duty regulations, allowing them to opt out of the new rule." President Cleary continued, "USAPA strongly supports One Level of Safety ? what?s safe for one pilot is safe for all, and these new rules fail to incorporate that commitment."  

All pilots are subject to the same physiological needs regardless of the type of air carrier operations. The new rule fails to acknowledge that basic fact by exempting certain segments of air transport. Added Captain Cleary, "Fatigue is fatigue, regardless of whether you're carrying passengers or cargo.  

USAPA believes that, in the largely adversarial work environment that many are faced with today, strict government regulation must be in place to protect against potential abuses. Faced with the many potential challenges in round-the-clock air transport operations, a pilot must have the protections of strong Flight and Duty Time regulations and be free to remove him or herself from a flight due to fatigue without fear of recrimination."  

US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) represents the more than 5,000 mainline pilots who fly for US Airways. USAPA's mission is to ensure safe flights for airline passengers by guaranteeing that their lives are in the hands of only the most qualified, competent and well-equipped pilots.

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