"This proposal is a significant enhancement for aviation safety," said Secretary LaHood. "Both pilots and passengers will benefit from these proposed rules that will continue to ensure the safety of our nation's air transportation system."
Last year, Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt identified the issue of pilot fatigue as a top priority during the Airline Safety Call to Action following the crash of Colgan Air 3407 plane crash in February 2009. Administrator Babbitt launched an aggressive effort to take advantage of the latest research on fatigue to create a new pilot flight, duty and rest proposal.
Today's proposal is compatible with provisions in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, which directs the FAA to issue a regulation no later than August 1, 2011, to specify limitations on the hours of pilot flight and duty time to address problems relating to pilot fatigue.
Currently, there are different rest requirements for domestic, international and unscheduled flights. The proposed rule would eliminate these distinctions. The proposal also sets different requirements for pilots based on the time of day and number of scheduled segments, as well as time zones, type of flights, and likelihood that a pilot is able to sleep under different circumstances.
The proposal defines "flight duty" as the period of time when a pilot reports for duty with the intention of flying an aircraft, operating a simulator or operating a flight training device. A pilot's entire duty period can include both "flight duty" and other tasks that do not involve flight time, such as record keeping and ground training.
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Congress recently mandated that all air carriers have a Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP). Each carrier will be able to develop its own set of policies and procedures to reduce the risks of pilot fatigue and improve alertness. The FAA has prepared guidance material to help the airlines develop their FRMP.