FAA "Errors" On Fatigue Rules Exemption

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Justice Department attorneys representing the FAA Thursday said the agency made "errors" in enacting pilot fatigue rules that exempt cargo carriers and the issue would be revisited. FAA officials originally estimated that including cargo carriers in new pilot rest rules would cost the industry $214 million over ten years. Based at least in part on that cost estimate, the FAA exempted cargo pilots from the rules. Attorneys representing the FAA now say errors in the cost calculation are "sufficient" to review those calculations. The decision to revisit the issue is concurrent with a lawsuit brought against the FAA by the UPS pilots union. And the FAA's attorneys have made a request regarding that action.

The Justice Department attorneys have asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to hold the lawsuit until the FAA completes its re-evaluation of the exemption. An attorney for the pilots union called the FAA's evaluation "flawed" and was issued "without opportunity for public comment and examination." The president of the Cargo Airline Association, Stephen Alterman, said the decision of the FAA to revisit the rule left him "dumbfounded," Businessweek.com reported. New rest rules go into effect for passenger airlines in 2014. They reduce the number of hours pilots can fly overnight -- a time when cargo carriers do much of their work. An outside group will review the new cost analysis before it is included in documents issued for public comment.