Ask a Pilot: How Does the Aviation Industry Manage Daylight Saving Time?

Special Guest Commentary by Capt. Paul Ryder

This weekend, November 6, marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before going to sleep on Saturday. But take it easy in Arizona and Hawaii—these states have ditched the practice and follow the same clock year-round.

Air travelers enjoying an extra hour of sleep Saturday night can rest assured their flights will run as usual on Sunday morning. That’s because the aviation industry operates on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), also referred to as Zulu time. UTC is the primary time standard by which clocks are regulated worldwide. Our weather reports, flight planning, and flight clearance times are all calculated based on UTC to maintain smooth operations and minimize issues associated with daylight saving time or crossing time zones.

With these logistics in place, the aviation industry isn’t generally impacted by DST. Even so, the industry does take certain steps to keep things running smoothly for passengers. To maintain passenger safety and compliance with federal requirements, pilot rest periods are adjusted according to DST changes. Airlines also closely track DST at the destinations they serve to provide accurate flight schedules for passengers.

24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the aviation industry is working to keep our passengers moving—we’ll see you in the friendly skies.

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