Allied Pilots Association On Proposed
New Flight And Duty Time Rules
September 17, 2010
- Any Change Must Enhance Safety, the Allied Pilots Association (APA),
certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,500 pilots of American
Airlines, characterized some of the Federal Aviation Administration's
proposed new flight and duty time regulations for pilots as "a big step
backwards" and urged the FAA to rework certain key provisions.
?We are pleased that the FAA has undertaken the long-overdue process of reviewing and revising flight and duty time rules for commercial airline pilots," said APA President Captain David Bates. "However, we urge the FAA to reexamine the rationale for some of the proposed changes. While some of the FAA's proposed new rules would enhance safety, others would represent a big step backwards."
"In APA's view,
any change in the rules must be designed to enhance safety," he said.
"For example, the FAA's proposal to reduce total time on duty during
back-side-of-the-clock operations clearly meets that standard.
Unfortunately, there are some important areas where the proposed new
rules fall well short and instead appear to be catering to industry
The FAA has
proposed increasing the maximum allowable time that pilots can spend at
the controls to as many as 10 hours. The current limit is eight hours.
"There is no scientific basis or validation for a 25 percent increase in
maximum flight time for pilots," Bates said. "Common sense dictates that
increasing flight time limits will increase pilot fatigue, in turn
degrading the margin of safety."
In addition, Bates
cited the proposed new rest requirements for pilots as "insufficient."
Under the proposed new rule, all pilots?both domestic and
international?would be allotted a minimum of nine hours.
"Nine hours is insufficient?it's not enough to consistently provide pilots with the opportunity for eight hours of sleep, which is the minimum amount dictated by science," he said. "Under the proposed new rules, international pilots in particular would experience a dramatic reduction in the minimum amount of rest they would be eligible to receive."
The FAA announced
the proposed new flight and duty time rules on Sept. 12. A 60-day
comment period that provides a formal process for interested parties to
weigh in on the proposed new rules runs until Nov. 13. The FAA's
proposed new rules resulted from a lengthy rule-making process that
involved a cross section of industry stakeholders, including APA.
"We will be
participating in the comment period to make our concerns known to the
FAA and other interested parties," Bates said. "While we very much
welcome the prospect of updated flight and duty time limits, it's
imperative that we use this long-awaited opportunity to enhance the
margin of safety for the traveling public. In the unforgiving world of
commercial aviation, we cannot permit bottom-line pressures to take
precedence. Safety must remain the highest priority?first, last and
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