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

Special Guest Commentary by F/O Paul Ryder (UAL), ALPA National Resource Coordinator

This Sunday, November 3, marks the end of daylight saving time (DST). That’s right, it’s the time of year to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night. Our friends in Hawaii and most of Arizona, along with the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and American Samoa, do not have to set their clocks back because DST is not observed in these areas.

For air travelers, even though you will lose an hour of sleep Saturday night, you can rest assured that 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. 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.

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, ALPA’s #trainedforlife airline pilots are working to keep our passengers and cargo moving as smoothly as possible.

Categories: Ask a Pilot
Tags: United;