Fatigue Legislation Air Transportation

Bill would extend FAA rest requirements to cargo pilots

Photo: baranozdemir/iStockphoto

Washington — Legislation reintroduced in the House on June 23 and the Senate on July 15 would provide cargo pilots with the same legal protections intended to protect against fatigued flying as those afforded to passenger aircraft pilots.

The Safe Skies Act (S. 2350 and H.R. 4075) – sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), respectively – is aimed at eliminating a Department of Transportation loophole that exempts cargo pilots from Federal Aviation Administration rest requirements. Under rules that went into effect in January 2014, passenger airlines must provide pilots with at least 10 consecutive hours of rest before flight duty.

A press release from Klobuchar’s office notes that cargo pilots are allowed to be on duty for as long as 16 hours a day – or 60% longer than other pilots.

“It shouldn’t matter if a pilot is flying a cargo or a commercial plane – it is critical we address pilot fatigue,” Klobuchar said. “Closing this loophole will help prevent potential tragedies and ensure the safety of all involved.”

Several organizations support the legislation, the release states, including the Air Line Pilots Association, International; the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations; and the Independent Pilots Association.


“It is vitally important to ensure that the safety of our nation’s transportation system remains paramount,” CAPA President Larry Rooney said in a press release. “Until flight duty and rest regulations are applied to all cargo carriers and supplemental carriers, we will never have ‘One-Level-of-Safety.’ Sadly, its absence places our nation’s airline safety system at significant risk for another unfortunate, preventable and costly tragedy.”

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are co-sponsors of the bill. The House version has 10 co-sponsors, including Reps. John Katko (R-NY) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA).

At press time, the legislation was under consideration by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee as well as the House Aviation Subcommittee. Similar bills have been introduced in the House and Senate since 2012.

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