FAA Misses Deadline On Fatigue Rules

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Another deadline passed Wednesday without the FAA acting to finalize new rules aimed at pilot fatigue, and that brought ire from family members of the victims of Continental Flight 3407. The concerned parties have organized into the Families of Continental Flight 3407, an action group formed in remembrance of relatives lost to that 2009 crash, and to see through what they believe are necessary preventive changes in regulation. The FAA's original deadline for the pilot fatigue rules was Aug. 1. It was later moved to Nov. 30. The agency says it is "working aggressively" to complete the new final version of the fatigue rules "as well as separate rules that address pilot qualifications and training." The agency has met organized opposition in the past. Comments from one of the family members suggest he believes there may be more corrupt motives in the mix.

Scott Maurer lost his daughter in the crash of Flight 3407. He told the Buffalo News that cargo carriers' desire that the FAA develop separate rest requirements for their pilots mean they "are putting profits ahead of safety" and delaying the process. Investigators blamed the crash on pilot error. The investigation found that neither pilot on the flight deck had slept in a bed the night before the accident flight. The aircraft, a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8-400 operated as Colgan Air (Continental Express), stalled in weather, at night, and crashed while approaching the airport at Buffalo, N.Y. All 49 aboard died, as did one on the ground. Rest rules proposed by the FAA in September 2010 were met with a critical letter from the Air Transport Association. According to the ATA, the rules would cost billions and kill tens of thousands of jobs in the airline industry. The Buffalo News concluded its report with the words of local politician, Brian Higgins. "I understand they want to get it right, but part of getting it right is getting it done."