Complaints Intensify Over FAA Fatigue Rules

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The union representing pilots who fly for UPS already has filed suit over new FAA fatigue rules that exempt cargo airlines, and now FedEx pilots also have expressed outrage over the rules' "casual dismissal of cargo pilots and their families." The rule "completely ignores the safety of cargo pilots and instead lets operators choose to ignore the safety improvements that will benefit pilots carrying passengers," said a statement from the FedEx Master Executive Council, which is part of the Air Line Pilots Association. ALPA welcomed the new rules last week but said it is "disappointed that cargo operations are being held to a lesser standard." According to the Wall Street Journal, ALPA officials now say they will fight against the regulations. Meanwhile, 2011 is shaping up to be the safest year ever for airline travel.

If the week finishes with no airline accidents, the total for the year will be about one passenger death for every 7.1 million air travelers worldwide, according to the Wall Street Journal. That will best the postwar record of one fatality per 6.4 million passengers set in 2004, the Journal said. "Safety is improving and it's improving faster than the industry is expanding," said Paul Hayes, director of safety at Ascend, the London consulting firm that analyzed the global data. The accident rate for Western-built aircraft, such as Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer, is seven times safer than the rate for aircraft built in Russia and elsewhere, according to Ascend. The accident rate in Africa is about 40 times greater than in North America, but Africa has improved greatly in recent years while North America has remained flat, Ascend's analysis found.