FAA to Fatigued pilots: don’t fly commercial passengers, but boxes and military Ok!

The FAA, after years of debate and political push me pull me on Capitol Hill released new Flight Time/ Duty Time regulations for the airline industry. But as forecasted by some pilots associations, the big carriers such as UPS and FedEX lobbied to be exempt due to the “costs” of implementing the rules.
And guess what? They are exempt from the new rules.
Imagine that.
The new rules,  loosely to start, are :

  • 10 hours rest between shifts (+2 hours than before)
  • only 8-9 hours of actual flight time
  • maximum shift hours 9-14 including waits, maintenance and administrative
  • airlines have 2 years to enforce rules

From the AP Joan Lowy: ” The exemption for cargo carriers runs counter to the FAA’s goal of “one level of safety” across the aviation industry. It’s also certain to provoke complaints from pilot unions, who point out that cargo pilots suffer from fatigue the same as pilots for passenger-carrying airlines. And, while cargo planes aren’t carrying passengers, the risk to the public on the ground from an air crash is just as great.

The charter airlines that transport nearly 90% of U.S. troops around the world had also lobbied heavily for an exemption to the new rules, saying military missions could be jeopardized. But FAA officials rejected those pleas.”

So we will let tired pilots fly our military. Great.

The Independent Pilots Association (IPA),  which represents the local UPS pilots, released this statement:

(I love the first line.)
Release Date: 12/21/2011 10:19:51 AM

LOUISVILLE, December 21, 2011 – The following statement is from Captain
Robert Travis, President of the Independent Pilots Association (UPS pilots):

“Giving air cargo carriers the choice to opt-in to new pilot rest rules makes as much sense as allowing truckers to ‘opt-out’ of drunk driving laws.

To potentially allow fatigued cargo pilots to share the same skies with properly rested passenger pilots creates an unnecessary threat to public safety. We can do better.

Congress directed the FAA to create new science-based flight and duty rules to establish one level of aviation safety to protect the public. Today, under intense pressure from the cargo industry lobby, the FAA has failed to carry out this basic congressional mandate.

At the same time we work to reverse ‘opt-in’ UPS pilots will ask our carrier to voluntarily operate under these new science-based safety rules. UPS is a premier company and our expectation is that UPS will honor their longstanding pledge to operate the world’s safest airline.”

I am sure the UPS corp. offices are thrilled, all of my high flying pilot frineds, not so much.

Stay tuned for more action and reaction.