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News Release

Release #01.69
July 10, 2001

FAA Denies Airlines’ Attempt to Evade Pilot Fatigue Rule; ALPA President Applauds Decision

WASHINGTON, D.C.---Today the Federal Aviation Administration denied the Air Transport Association and Regional Airline Association requests to defer enforcement (click here to read the text of this request) of the Agency’s pilot fatigue rule that limits a pilot’s working day to 16 hours. The Airlines have persistently sought to change the fatigue rule so that pilots could work unlimited hours, placing economics above safety.

"I join commercial airline pilots across the country in giving the FAA a robust standing ovation for acknowledging that airline operations conducted by fatigued crewmembers pose a serious risk to aviation safety and the traveling public," said Captain Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, which represents more than 66,000 pilots at 47 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

In dismissing airline assertions that operational risks could increase due to the fact that aircraft may need to return to a gate because a crewmember needs rest, the FAA said that airlines ignore the risks of fatigue present when a flight crew does not meet the Agency’s eight-hour rest requirement.

The Agency acknowledged that pilot fatigue is often insidious and that fatigued individuals cannot always recognize that their thinking faculties, reaction times and other abilities have been diminished.

"While I am pleased that the FAA has stood firm on its interpretation of the longstanding rule limiting pilot work hours to 16 in any 24-hour period, or essentially eight hours away from the plane, the traveling public should understand that in most cases this barely provides a pilot with five or six hours of actual sleep — and that’s abominable," Woerth said.

The Air Line Pilots Association will continue to push for drastically needed amendments to the flight time rules to establish one flight/duty time standard for all airline pilots, reduce the maximum scheduled duty time to 12 hours and give pilots a minimum break of 10 hours off-duty to allow an 8-hour sleep opportunity, which was recommended by the NASA Guidelines For Duty And Rest.

"I urge the FAA to issue its long-awaited final rule on pilot flight and duty time as soon as possible," said Woerth. "I also implore the airlines to quit their stalling and stop looking to evade the inevitable reforms to archaic pilot duty times that this country needs to ensure the safest possible air operations," said Woerth. "The flying public deserves well rested pilots in their cockpits."

For more information on pilot fatigue and regulations, visit ALPA’s Web page on these issues at http://cf.alpa.org/internet/projects/ftdt/index.html.

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ALPA CONTACT: Anya Piazza, John Mazor (703) 481-4440