Piling on FAA's Rest Rule

Air passengers' anger is being heard about two issues now -- both the new security scanners at some U.S. airports and FAA's proposed rule to change flight crews' duty and rest requirements are taking the heat. While the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) submitted comments in favor on Nov. 15, a flood of hostile individual comments also came in with that date about the proposed rule. Many anonymous comments are in the online docket (FAA-2009-1093 at www.regulations.gov); most individuals submitted a paragraph of a sentence or two warning that the proposal will make pilots fly longer and will reduce aviation safety.

"I fly frequently to Asia and South America as well as here in the US," one commenter said. "The idea that you would not make adequate down time available to pilots and crew is ridiculous and frightening. Like every other Government agency you are going to wait until the outcome of your actions is so dire that changes will have to be made. Can't you think out of the box? If there are crashes because of your actions - officials in your agency should go to jail."

The Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association submitted comments Nov. 9 warning the rule "would have economically disastrous consequences" for its members. "The United States is approaching a crisis in availability of pilots," RACCA President Stanley L. Bernstein wrote. He predicted "the time where U.S. pilot supply and demand lines will cross is soon approaching," adding, "Mandating increased crewtime requirements for a given level of Part 135 flying activity will only exacerbate a situation now beginning to manifest itself in the Part 121 world."

ALPA in its comments said the Sept. 14 proposed rule is "the most important in modern aviation history," in its view. The proposal is based on the available science, "sorely needed," and likely to impose minimal cost on carriers because they use sophisticated scheduling optimizers, ALPA said.

UPS Co., which asked for a 60-day comment extension, said in that Sept. 27 extension request that the rule's costs "have been substantially understated" and predicted the rule, if unchanged, "would substantially alter the operations and cost structure of the entire cargo industry."

FAA said its proposed rule addresses cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a flightcrew member can be assigned to any type of duty. The proposal complies with the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extensive Act of 2010, which President Obama signed on Aug. 1, 2010, which directed FAA to issue regulations setting duty time and flight limits to address the problem of pilot fatigue.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Nov 16, 2010