"Fighting fatigue is the joint responsibility of the airline and the pilot, and after years of debate, the aviation community is moving forward to give pilots the tools they need to manage fatigue and fly safely," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said.

FAA Rule Offers Pilots More Rest

Released Friday, the proposed regulation would provide a nine-hour opportunity for rest prior to duty, which is one more hour than the current rules specify.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposed a regulation Friday to increase commercial pilots' rest opportunities before they go on duty, with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt saying it is needed to protect 700 million passengers and pilots who fly in U.S. airspace annually. "Fighting fatigue is the joint responsibility of the airline and the pilot, and after years of debate, the aviation community is moving forward to give pilots the tools they need to manage fatigue and fly safely," Babbitt said.

One of FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Committees that includes representatives from labor, the aviation industry, and FAA provided input that is included in the rule, according to the announcement posted on the DOT Fast Lane blog.

The announcement said the rule includes:

  • One consistent rule for domestic, international, and unscheduled flights
  • A nine-hour opportunity for rest prior to duty (a one-hour increase over current rules)
  • A new approach for measuring a rest period that guarantees the opportunity for eight hours of sleep
  • Different requirements based on time of day, number of scheduled segments, flight types, time zones, and the likelihood a pilot is able to sleep

It will give pilots the right to decline an assignment without being penalize if they feel fatigued. FAA also said it prepared guidance for air carriers that are required by Congress to develop a fatigue risk management plan. FAA included this rule in its April 26, 2010, semiannual regulatory agenda, and Friday said comments on it are already being accepted (RIN 2120-AJ58, www.regulations.gov).

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