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Wed, Jan 07, 2009

APA Criticizes American Airline Lawsuit Against FAA’s 'Enhanced' Crew-Rest Rules

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), certified collective bargaining agent for the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines, termed “unconscionable” American Airlines’ lawsuit opposing enhanced crew-rest and other safety requirements recently enacted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). American Airlines filed the lawsuit jointly with several other carriers.

“The National Transportation Safety Board has identified as one of its ‘most wanted transportation safety improvements’ the reduction of aviation accidents and incidents caused by human fatigue,” said APA President Captain Lloyd Hill. “American Airlines management’s effort to block new crew-rest rules that are designed to reduce the well-established safety risks associated with pilot fatigue is nothing short of unconscionable. We cannot fathom their rationale.

“Numerous scientific studies have compared the fatigue induced by periods of prolonged wakefulness to the debilitating effects of intoxication,” he said. “In the exacting world of commercial aviation, we must do all we can to combat the dangers posed by fatigue.”

Hill noted that APA has been a longtime proponent of updating airline pilot flying, duty and rest limitations to combat pilot fatigue and enhance safety. International flight and duty rules pre-date the modern jet age, long before the advent of ultra-long-haul flying such as American Airlines’ Chicago-Delhi service using extended-range Boeing 777s. APA, American Airlines management and various other industry stakeholders participated in the FAA-convened working group that crafted the new rules the carriers are seeking to circumvent.

“The new FAA rules are based on a greatly improved scientific understanding of the effects of fatigue on human performance,” Hill said. “Although we would like to see the FAA take a more aggressive stance on pilot fatigue, we consider the new rules to be a step in the right direction.

“American Airlines management’s resistance to common-sense measures designed to enhance the margin of safety is yet another example of short-sighted decision-making. Cost-cutting should never take precedence over safety,” he said.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association—the largest independent pilot union in the U.S.—is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines, including 1,969 pilots on furlough. The furloughs began shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Also, several hundred American Airlines pilots are on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. American Airlines is the nation’s second-largest passenger carrier and fifth-largest cargo carrier.

FMI: www.alliedpilots.org

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