Today, we're announcing a significant improvement in air travel safety: a proposal to fight fatigue among commercial pilots. This will help protect the more than 700 million passengers and pilots who travel our nation's airways each year.
As you may recall, managing fatigue was a top priority in our Airline Safety Call to Action following the tragic crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 in February 2009. We held a dozen safety forums all across the US. We've talked with safety experts, aviation specialists, and fatigue scientists. And I'm pleased that we have addressed this issue.
The proposed rule also incorporates input from an Aviation Rulemaking Committee with members from labor, industry, and the FAA. As Administrator Randy Babbitt said, "Fighting fatigue is the joint responsibility of the airline and the pilot, and after years of debate, the aviation community is moving forward to give pilots the tools they need to manage fatigue and fly safely."
Key new features of the proposed rule include:
- One consistent rule for domestic, international, and unscheduled flights
- A nine-hour opportunity for rest prior to duty (a one-hour increase over current rules)
- New approach to measuring a rest period that guarantees the opportunity for eight hours of sleep
- Different requirements based on time-of-day, number of scheduled segments, flight types, time zones, and likelihood that a pilot is able to sleep
Features to manage cumulative risk include:
- Weekly and monthly limits on duty time of any kind
- Thirty consecutive hours free from duty every week (a 25% increase over current rules)
The FAA has also prepared guidance for air carriers who are required by Congress to develop a Fatigue Risk Management Plan.
Like our roads, America's skies are the safest they've ever been. But they must be safer, and this rule is one more step toward that goal.