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Fight Brewing Over FAA Fatigue Rules

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A bill filed in the House last week aims to extend the FAA's new airline fatigue rules to cover cargo pilots, but the effort is already drawing opposition from the cargo industry. The new FAA rules, scheduled to take effect in January 2014, stipulate that pilots must get at least 10 hours of off-duty time between flights, and can't fly more than five consecutive night shifts. The bill to change that, called the Safe Skies Act (PDF), was filed by U.S. Reps. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., and Tim Bishop, D-N.Y. FedEx told The Hill that it would be a bad idea to impose the rules on cargo carriers.

FedEx said it has "worked with our pilots and recognized experts to mitigate fatigue for many years [incorporating] the best scientific findings in the area of fatigue into our scheduling systems." Cravaack, a former cargo pilot, said, "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." The union representing UPS pilots, which challenged their exclusion from the new rules earlier this year, supports Cravaack's proposal. The Air Line Pilots Association also supports the change. "All airline pilots are human beings, and all airline operations should benefit from the same high safety standards," said Lee Moak, ALPA president.

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