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News Release

Release #01.52
May 24, 2001

ALPA Calls On FAA To Quit Stalling And Act To Modernize Flight Time/Duty Time Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pilots representatives from just about every airline in the country gathered at the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) headquarters May 23 and 24 to discuss the serious threat to aviation safety that continues to escalate as a result of FAA stagnation in producing new flight time/duty time regulations. With the holiday weekend approaching, as well as the busy summer travel season, pilots are concerned that congestion and delays will further prolong their duty periods and exacerbate the very real problem of pilot fatigue, which impairs pilot judgement and performance.

Pilots refused to participate in the airlines’ Alertness Management Symposium meeting across town as protest against further obstruction to much needed new regulations governing pilot work and rest hours.

"Commercial airline pilots in this country have been waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to act on new flight time/duty time regulations for decades," said Captain Duane Woerth, ALPA president. "We have a Federal Aviation Administration-funded study on fatigue conducted by the Battelle Institute, reams of scientific data gathered by NASA and other research institutions, and the National Transportation Safety Board all saying that pilot fatigue is a real problem that must be addressed immediately — yet the FAA has refused to modernize its regulations based on all of this evidence," added Woerth. "I call on the FAA to quit stalling and act now."

The FAA last proposed an update to flight and duty time regulations in 1995, but the new rule was sidelined due to vigorous opposition from airline management. Margaret Sweeney, PhD, who spoke on behalf of the NTSB at the pilot conference, said that the Board has included the need for updated regulations to address pilot fatigue on its Most Wanted List since the list’s inception in 1990. Dr. Sweeney cited several recent airline crashes in which fatigue was believed to be a factor.

At the conference the pilots called upon the FAA to immediately act on the following four items to prevent pilot fatigue and enhance safety:

  1. Establish One Flight Time/Duty Time standard for all airline pilots
  2. Maintain the current 8-hour flight time limit with absolutely no increase
  3. Reduce the maximum scheduled duty time to 12 hours
    • Further restrict duty time for midnight-to-dawn flights
  4. Institute a minimum 10 hours off-duty break (to allow an 8-hour sleep opportunity)

The Air Line Pilots Association, International is the oldest and largest pilots union in the world, representing more than 66,000 pilots at 46 airlines in the United States and Canada. Please visit ALPA’s website at cf.alpa.org.

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ALPA contact: Anya Piazza 703-481-4440