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 FAA - Develop rules on pilot fatigue by September

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Zach Lach - CEO

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Join date : 2009-06-19

PostSubject: FAA - Develop rules on pilot fatigue by September   Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:18 am



By Alan Levin, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Airlines, pilot unions and federal officials have until Sept. 1 to develop new rules to limit fatigue among pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday in an unusually aggressive move to reach agreement on one of the industry's most contentious safety issues.

The National Transportation Safety Board has cited fatigue as a factor in several recent crashes, including a February crash near Buffalo that killed 50 people

Should pilot age limits be lowered?

The board revealed last month that both pilots on that flight had not gotten a full night's sleep before the accident.

The NTSB lists combating fatigue as one of its "Most Wanted" safety improvements.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt called on airlines and pilot unions to begin meeting with federal officials by July 15 to come up with recommendations on how long pilots can work each day.

The committee will have until September to present their findings, Babbitt said in a news release. "Now is the time to push these initiatives forward," he said.

An effort to get unions and airlines to reach a compromise in the 1990s failed, leaving 50-year-old rules that scientists who study fatigue say do little to promote safety.

Under current rules, pilots generally can fly up to eight hours a day. Their workday, which includes time on the ground between flights, can extend up to 16 hours. There are no restrictions on flying during the middle of the night or making numerous takeoffs and landings.

Curtis Graeber, a scientist who has studied pilot fatigue for nearly 30 years, said that research can better predict how long pilots should work than simple hourly limits.

Factors such as how many days in a row a pilot has worked and whether rest periods allow for a good night's sleep should be used to limit flying time, Graeber said.

Airlines in Europe, Australia and New Zealand have begun adopting such rules. Graeber said he is not hopeful that the groups can reach agreement in this country.

"Getting that kind of consensus has proved challenging in the past," he said.

Pilots have rejected attempts to extend the amount of time they can fly and airlines oppose changes that would restrict scheduling.

Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association said Wednesday that they support the government's effort.
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