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FAA Announces New Pilot Duty Rule; Exception of Cargo Carriers

On December 21 in Washington, D.C., the FAA announced a new, more stringent rule on pilot flight duty and rest requirements for passenger carriers operating under Part 121. When Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo nearly three years ago, attention was cast upon the working conditions of regional airline pilots. This led to the stricter rule which requires pilots to have a minimum of 10 hours of rest before each flight duty period, which is an increase of two hours over previous rules. Additionally, the final rule limits the number of hours a pilot can fly weekly and monthly. Lastly, it extends the length of consecutive hours off in a seven-day period from 24 to 30. Before each and every mission, the pilot needs to sign off on a form saying that they are stable and capable of safely flying the aircraft. If the pilot is ever too fatigued to fly, it is their responsibility to let the carrier know.
The only exception to this new regulation is all-cargo carriers. The reason which was given stated that “their compliance costs significantly exceed the quantified societal benefits.” FAA officials have disclosed that the projected cost for cargo operations is $306 million (with one fatal all-cargo accident costing anywhere between $20 and $32 million). This exception has caused an uproar from flight safety organizations who have challenged the FAA with a petition to review this rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

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