Senate Dems would add cargo pilots to rules limiting time flying

Senate Democrats introduced legislation Thursday to include cargo pilots in Department of Transportation rules that limit flying time, which now only apply to pilots of passenger planes.

Under the requirements that went into effect in January 2014, pilots of passenger planes are limited to flying either eight or nine hours, depending on the start time, and airlines are required to provide pilots with a minimum of 10 rest hours, with the opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

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The Safe Skies Act, introduced by Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Congress can prevent another Jan. 6 by updating a key elections law MORE (D-Calif.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellUS lawmakers weigh new COVID-19 stimulus funding for businesses Senate whistleblower report alleges oversight problems with aerospace industry safety On The Money — Senate risks Trump's ire with debt ceiling deal MORE (D-Wash.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Biden celebrates 'right to repair' wins Advocacy groups urge Congress to tackle tech giants' auto industry focus Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (D-Minn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Overnight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability MORE (D-Mass.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Wicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties MORE (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE (D-Minn.), aims to ensure that America’s cargo plane pilots are sufficiently rested and alert for flying.

"Whether flying a passenger or a cargo plane, pilot fatigue can have tragic consequences," Klobuchar said in a statement. "That's why we need consistent rules throughout the aviation system to help prevent any tragedies. 

Pilots of cargo planes, the lawmakers said, are now allowed to be on duty for up to 16 hours a day, 60 percent longer than other pilots.

“When a large plane flies over your house in the middle of the night, it doesn't matter whether it's carrying cargo or passengers, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican," said retired airline Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who speaks about airline safety. "The danger is all the same if the pilots are fatigued."