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Pilots call for changes to proposed fatigue rules

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Three unions for airline pilots say the new rules to fight pilot fatigue proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration don’t go far enough.

The unions that represent thousands of the nation’s commercial pilots voiced concern in statements issued over the last few days about the new rules proposed by the FAA Sept. 10.

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The proposed rules were drafted in response to the deadly crash of a twin-engine turboprop plane in Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009. Pilot fatigue contributed to the crash that killed 50 people, investigators later determined.

Among other changes, the new rules would give pilots nine hours of rest, starting when they arrive at their home or hotels after work, compared to the current rules that give only eight hours, starting when a pilot climbs out of the cockpit.

But the Allied Pilots Assn., the union that represents 11,500 pilots from American Airlines, and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Assn., a group that represents 28,000 pilots from American, Southwest, US Airways and several smaller airlines, issued statements saying nine hours of rest won’t result in eight hours of sleep.

‘It’s not enough to consistently provide pilots with the opportunity for eight hours of sleep, which is the minimum amount dedicated by science,’ said Allied Pilots Assn. President David Bates.

Under a few circumstances, the new rules also allow a 25% increase in the hours a pilot flies.

The Air Line Pilots Assn, representing 53,000 members from 38 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, said it is still reviewing the proposed rules but also suggested the proposed rules won’t give pilots enough rest between work shifts.

The FAA will accept such comments for 60 days. The final rules should be adopted by August 2011.

-- Hugo Martin


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