New regulations announced to combat pilot fatigue

The FAA has approved new regulations imposing mandatory time off and limits on flight time, in an effort to make sure the pilots that fly us through the friendly skies are well rested.

The U.S. is taking steps to curb fatigue among pilots, following a 2009 plane crash in Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 49 passengers and crew. New regulations were announced on Wednesday, in the first change to the rules since 1985.

The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules will impose different requirements for the amount of hours a pilot can fly based on the time pilots begin their first flight, the number of flights they have scheduled, and the number of time zones they cross.

The regulations include the following provisions:

  • Flight times must be limited to eight or nine hours, depending on the pilot's start time.
  • A minimum rest period of 10 hours - the ruling mandates that a pilot will have the opportunity to get eight hours of sleep during this period.
  • Limits on how much flight time pilots can accrue over a 28-day period. The rules also stipulate that pilots must have 30 consecutive hours off-duty per week (25 percent more than the previous regulations stipulated).
  • If pilots report that they are fatigued, they are to be immediately removed from duty.
  • Airlines may develop additional fatigue risk management programs, to be monitored by the FAA, to help manage pilot fatigue.

So rest easy, airline passengers.

Photo: Flickr/Andrey Belenko

via [U.S. Department of Transportation]

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