Government proposing new rules to reduce pilot fatigue

WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - Transportation and labor officials said some airline pilots would fly fewer hours and others more hours under a proposal being released Friday to help lessen pilot fatigue. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday in his blog that the proposal will include different requirements based on the time of day, number of scheduled flight segments, flight types and time zones.

If adopted this proposed rule will give pilots the opportunity to get nine hours of rest before a flight, place new limits on the number of hours a pilot can fly weekly and monthly. And ensure that pilots have a greater number of hours off duty every week" said LaHood.

The proposal is an attempt to prevent tired pilots from making errors that cause crashes. It would update decades-old rules governing pilot work schedules with more flexible, scientifically based standards.

Another big change if these rules are adopted: how pilots who fly domestic or international flights are distinguished in terms of how much time off and rest they are given between flights.

"For far too long we have acted as if all flights are created equally. Well they're not.We propose now to eliminate distinctions that are existing between domestic, international, supplemental operations. Because the bottom line, the affects of pilot fatigue are universal. It doesn't matter what you're doing to become fatigued. If you're fatigued you shouldn't fly" said Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt.

The move was sparked by concerns that pilot fatigue was a contributing factor in a 2009 crash in Buffalo, New York that killed 50 people. Airlines have expressed concern about how much the new restrictions could cost them.

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