Dems want pilot-rest provision in FAA bill

Dems want pilot-rest provision in FAA bill
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Senate Democrats want to grant cargo pilots the same rest standards as passenger pilots as a provision of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.
 
Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs MORE (D-Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharAmazon primed for merger battle Time to get Trump’s new antitrust cop on the beat Going national with automatic voter registration MORE (D-Minn.) are leading the fight to attach an amendment to the FAA bill that would limit cargo plane pilots to flying no more than nine hours a day — the same standard for passenger pilots. Cargo pilots can currently fly up to 16 hours a day.
 
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Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the retired airline captain who safely executed an emergency landing in the Hudson River in 2009, is also backing the provision. He was spotted talking to members about the amendment in the Senate basement after a Tuesday press conference.
 
“Fatigue is a killer,” Sullenberger said at the press conference. “It’s time to right this wrong. It’s time to fix this rule.”
 
Boxer said she would filibuster the FAA bill if the pilot provision does not get a vote.
 
"I think this is an absurdity to block a vote on something as important at this,” she said.
 
The comments come amid growing concern that pet interests could bog down the entire FAA bill, including a push to include renewable energy tax breaks. The agency’s current legal authority expires July 15.
 
“There are other problems with the bill that people are weighing as well, so I think this bill has a very shaky future,” Boxer added.
 
Boxer and Klobuchar first crafted legislation to make sure passenger and cargo crews had the same flight- and duty-time requirements after the Department of Transportation (DOT) wrote new rules to address pilot fatigue following a deadly passenger airline crash in 2009.
 
The DOT standards require passenger pilots to be limited to flying either eight or nine hours, with a minimum of 10 rest hours and the opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But cargo pilots were not included in the rules.
 
“This doesn’t make sense,” Boxer said Tuesday. “It’s dangerous.”
 
A group of shipping companies wrote a letter to Senate leadership explaining why they thought the amendment “could actually make our operations less safe and put our pilots at risk.”
 
“Measures used to prevent fatigue must be different for passenger carriers than they are for cargo carriers because our work schedules are different,” wrote FedEx, UPS, ABX Air and Atlas Air. 
 
“We fly fewer legs, have longer layovers, and have better rest opportunities on our trips, including while technically 'on duty' waiting for our nightly sorts to occur."
 
Boxer beat back against the letter, accusing special interests of intervening.
 
“The proof is in the pudding,” Boxer said. “Special interests are doing what they always do: trying to get a deal.”