The union representing FedEx Express pilots says it is “outraged at the casual dismissal of cargo pilots and their families” in the government decision to exempt freight airlines from safety rules aimed at limiting pilot fatigue.
But the FedEx Master Executive Council is stopping short of saying whether it will join the association representing UPS pilots in a court challenge against last week’s Federal Aviation Administration decision.
“We will not sit idly by and allow another 50 years of ambivalence to take hold,” FedEx MEC Chairman Scott Stratton said in a statement.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in announcing new flight and duty time rules for pilots last week that the new limits on flight hours would apply to pilots at passenger airlines but not cargo airlines. LaHood said the DOT could not make a “cost-benefit” case for including express airline pilots, particularly because those pilots generally fly at night as a matter of course.
The FedEx pilots said the decision was the result a “political process.”
“It is outrageous that the new rule does not include cargo,” Stratton said. “Cargo aircraft operate into the same airspace, into the same crowded airports surrounded by millions of homes and face the same challenges every other professional aviator encounters on a 24-hour basis.”
There are relatively few accidents involving jet aircraft operations at FedEx and UPS, where aircraft typically fly less often than passenger aircraft. But safety advocates have said pilots at smaller airlines that operate regional “feeder” flights are under more pressure to maintain service at low margins.