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Thu, Dec 22, 2011

ALPA, NTSB Welcome Release Of Pilot Fatigue Rules

New Rules Codify Crew Rest, Pilot's Work Day

Reaction has begun to come in from the release Wednesday of pilot fatigue rules from the FAA. And while the rules are, in the words of NTSB chair Deborah Hersman "not perfect," the reviews are generally favorable.

“Today’s pilot fatigue rule release marks historic progress in what must be an unrelenting commitment to ensuring the highest safety standards throughout the airline industry," said Capt. Lee Moak (pictured), president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). "The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), is gratified that the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have delivered on their pledge, and a Congressional mandate, to issue new flight- and duty-time regulations and minimum rest requirements for airline pilots.

Moak pointed out that ALPA has fought for regulations that are based on modern science for many years. The union's goal has been rules that apply equally to all types of airline operations, including domestic, international, and supplemental; and enable air carriers to establish Fatigue Risk Management Systems. Among its most recent actions to combat pilot fatigue, ALPA co-chaired the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which made recommendations to the government regarding this important rule, with the determined goal of advancing safety.

“While the new rule brings much-needed science-based improvements in flight and duty regulations, ALPA is disappointed that cargo operations are being held to a lesser standard. In the coming days, ALPA will analyze the regulations to determine how they will meet the union’s long-standing goals for addressing pilot fatigue and ensuring that airline pilots will be well positioned to arrive at work rested and ready to perform their jobs. ALPA will continue to strongly advocate for One Level of Safety for all types of flight operations and across the airline industry,” he said

NTSB chair Hersman (pictured) said fatigue has been on the Board's "Most Wanted List" of transportation safety improvements since 1990. Over the first century of powered flight, countless accidents trace pilot fatigue as a contributing factor.

"This is why the NTSB is so pleased that the FAA today issued a long-awaited science-based rule for flight and duty time," Hersman said in a statement. "Secretary LaHood and former FAA Administrator Babbitt have worked for years to shepherd this contentious rule through the process. We applaud the leadership of DOT and FAA for bringing it across the finish line.

"While this is not a perfect rule, it is a huge improvement over the status quo for large passenger-carrying operations. Yet, we are extremely disappointed that the new rule is limited to Part 121 carriers. A tired pilot is a tired pilot, whether there are 10 paying customers on board or 100, whether the payload is passengers or pallets. As the FAA said in its draft, "Fatigue threatens aviation safety because it increases the risk of pilot error that could lead  to an accident."  This is particularly a concern for crews that fly "on the back side of the clock."
      
Hersman said the Board looks forward to working with the FAA and the aviation community to support the rule's essential education and training components and to identify areas where additional measures are needed.

www.alpa.org, www.ntsb.gov

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