FAA's Fatigue Rules Critiqued

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The FAA's long-awaited proposal to create new rules that aim to prevent pilot fatigue is meeting with criticism from both airline operators and pilots. Capt. Chesley Sullenberger said at a news conference last week the rules need to be changed before they go into effect "to protect the safety of the flying public." He and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles spoke out against the rules, especially a change that would increase a pilot's maximum daily flight time from eight hours to ten hours. "We're here to tell you that you cannot reduce pilot fatigue by increasing the amount of time a pilot is at the controls," Skiles said. The Air Transport Association, representing airline interests, also protested the FAA proposal, saying it would "create onerous and duplicative regulations" and would cost almost $20 billion over the next 10 years, 15 times the FAA's estimate. The Air Line Pilots Association, however, filed comments generally supporting the FAA's plan, saying it is based on the available science and is "sorely needed."

ALPA added that it expected airline operators to argue that the changes would be "extremely costly," but ALPA believes the true costs will be "minimal." Several other organizations representing pilots, including the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations and the Allied Pilots Association, were critical of the proposal. Monday was the last day to file official comments on the proposed rules. The full text of all comments filed to the FAA docket is available online.