FAA Reprimands JetBlue For Pilot Research Project

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Some pilots for JetBlue Airways spent extra hours flying -- beyond the FAA limit of eight hours per day -- as part of an experiment to see if pilots could work longer without affecting safety, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. The experiments took place on regular trips with paying passengers on board. This week, the FAA reprimanded the company for conducting the experiments without the proper permission. The airline says they got an OK from officials at their regional FAA office, but the FAA says they should have gone to headquarters in Washington. The tests took place on about 50 flights in May 2005 on mostly coast-to-coast trips. Twenty-nine pilots each flew up to 11 hours a day. The passengers were not told about the experiment. JetBlue said each of the flights had a third pilot on board as backup in case of any problems, but there weren't any. The airline said it believed it had adequate permission to go ahead with the experiment. The pilots were monitored via motion detectors attached to their wrists, and their response times were measured at random throughout the experiment. FAA officials, miffed about the incident, say it is even less likely now that the agency will be willing to listen to airlines' requests to review work rules for pilots, according to The Wall Street Journal .