Thursday, 16 September 2010

New Federal Rules Allow Airline Pilots More Rest

Under new rules proposed by the Department of Transportation this week, airline pilots will now get nine hours of rest between shifts. That works out to a 13% increase over the current rest hours that pilots enjoy. The rules are part of a series of measures that are in the works to deal with airline pilot fatigue.

The rules are also a direct response to the deadly Buffalo plane crash in 2009 that killed 50 people. The pilots of the Colgan Air flight involved in the crash had been operating the plane in a fatigued state, having missed out on many hours of sleep in the days leading up to the crash. Under the new rules that were announced by Transportation Secretary LaHood, pilots will now get at least 30 consecutive hours of weekly rest from work. That is a 25% increase over current rules. Workdays may be limited to as few as nine hours a day, when a pilot flies more than seven segments.

For the first time, the new rules differentiate between flying at night and flying during the daytime. Pilots who fly between midnight and 4 AM will get to fly for nine hours. However, pilots who fly between 7 AM and 1 PM could work as much as 13 hours. This is meant to consider the difference between the difficulties and challenges of flying at night compared to flying in the day time. For the first time, fatigue rules for pilots take into consideration not just work hours, but also the difference between night and day, sleep cycles and the rest effect.

The current rules force pilots to switch on or off like a machine when they fly a plane, no matter what time of day or night it is. The new rules will change that. These rules take a humane and compassionate approach to flying that treats pilots like human beings. California plane crash lawyers would definitely approve.

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