A revamp of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for airline pilots is cutting back flight hours and increasing opportunities for rest to avoid further fatal crashes.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are regulations for airline pilots that have not seen an update since the 1960s, and with two decades full of attempts to change the flight hours of pilots a change is finally being made. The goal is the most cost effective update for the most safety to avoid tragedies like the crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people in 2009.
The new regulations, which must be implemented within the next two years, will cut a pilot’s maximum flight hours to between eight and nine hours depending on things like time zones crossed and the time of day of the first flight. A pilot must be allowed a minimum of 10 hours of rest between scheduled duty periods, which including administrative and pre-flight wait times. That is a two hour increase from the previous regulations. Minimum time off between work weeks will also see a 25 percent increase.
Overnight pilots will see less working hours than daytime pilots. Charter airlines carrying U.S. military troops will still be held to the new standard. Cargo carriers will not be affected by the updated regulations yet. Meetings are in the works to ask cargo carriers to consider implementing the new regulations voluntarily due to the enormous expense. The concern is that a well-rested pilot in the sky is at risk if a tired pilot is up there too. The FAA’s main ambition is to protect every person flying from private planes to passenger planes to cargo planes, and these new regulations will prevent, on average, six deaths and one and a half accidents a year.