Airlines Oppose Fatigue Rules

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The Air Transport Association (ATA) has sent a letter to the White House budget office saying that proposed fatigue rules will cost billions of dollars and kill tens of thousands of jobs in the airline industry. ATA says it is basing its estimates on numbers provided by a consulting agency. The job losses are based on ATA's assumption that the industry will react to costs associated with the regulations, which it says are $2 billion annually, by cutting up to 27,000 jobs. ATA says those losses could ripple out to eliminate 400,000 jobs industry-wide. The government doesn't agree with ATA's estimates and the attack isn't the first from the airline industry. Early this year, one carrier argued that compliance with the rules would force airlines to hire people.

In February of this year, American Airlines argued the new rules would require it to hire 2,325 new pilots. The carrier offered public comments, saying, "If AA needs 2,300 more pilots to meet the proposed rules, other certificate holders will need many additional pilots, too." The agency estimates costs of the new rules to run at about $1.25 billion over 10 years with benefits offsetting more than half of that. The FAA proposed the regulations in 2010 to increase rest requirements and set limits for how long pilots can fly during set periods of time. The action was stimulated by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February of 2009, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground. Fatigue was not cited as a causal factor in that accident, but the investigators found that neither the pilot nor copilot had slept in a bed on the night prior to the crash. Congress ordered the FAA to present new rules, which are now in the late stages of review.