Air cargo pilots, not just passenger plane pilots, would be subject to tougher regulation aimed at reducing fatigue in airline operations through a bipartisan-backed House bill.
Reps. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn, and Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., on Monday introduced the bill to require cargo pilots to take eight hours of rest between shifts when the overall Federal Aviation Administration rule takes effect on Jan. 14, 2014. The government's decision to exempt cargo pilots from the rule in December drew the ire of the union representing FedEx Express pilots.
“As a former cargo pilot, I understand the importance of a single standard of safety for pilots who share the same airspace and runways with passenger aircraft. I introduced the Safe Skies Act in order to apply the new, common sense standards for pilot rest to cargo pilots as well,” said Cravaack, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in announcing the rules last year said that 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 new regulation was spurred by a finding that pilot fatigue helped lead to the crash of the Colgan Air Flight 3407, a passenger jet under a sharing agreement with Continental Airlines, in 2009.
LaHood said in February that he would urge UPS and FedEx to voluntarily adopt the new fatigue rules, according to Bloomberg. 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.