The change was prompted by an airline crash that left no survivors near Buffalo last year. It turns out the pilot was tired as was the co-pilot, even before they started their flight from Newark, New Jersey.
Under the proposed overhaul of fatigue rules, an airline pilot will be able to get nine hours of rest between their work shifts. That represents a 13 percent increase from the current rules. This is the first proposed change of fatigue rules for airlines pilots in 15 years, reports Bloomberg.
The proposal would also require pilots to take more time off, at least 30 consecutive work-free hours every week, which represents a 25% increase from the current rules.
Generally pilots are in favor of the longer rest hours. After disembarking, traveling to a hotel and standing in lines, pilots may only have a few hours sleep.
With 700 million airline passengers every year, the rule reportedly will cost $804 million, phased in over 10 years and is facing a congressional deadline of August 2011.
Pilots are known to fly through several time zones on one trip. The current rules do not take into consideration sleep cycles. Also of concern is the fact that under the new rules pilots could in some circumstances work as long as 13 hours.
It took the death of 50 passengers in the Continental Airlines regional carrier crash near Buffalo, February 12, 2009, to underscore the hazards of fatigued plots. In that case, the pilot had come in from Florida and had spent two of three nights in pilot lounges without beds. The first officer had flown in from Washington State and was sick. Both were exhausted and discussed how they felt, even as the plant began nose-diving in a winter storm.
“Chronic sleep loss” contributed to the pilot’s failure to know how to handle the plane, said a federal investigation. Four months after this tragic crash, the Federal Aviation Administration began overhauling the pilot rest rules. Florida plane crash attorneys and people throughout the United States hope that the new rules will help ensure that pilots get the rest that they need in order to operate aircrafts safely and efficiently.