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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"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."