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Airline trade group opposes rule to fight pilot fatigue

September 15, 2011 |  3:28 pm

ColganflighAPA trade group that represents the nation's airlines claims a proposed rule to cut pilot fatigue would cost 400,000 jobs.

The Air Transport Assn. issued a statement Thursday, claiming the new rule proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration would increase the industry's costs but wouldn't improve its safety record.

The proposed FAA rule was drafted in response to the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February 2009. The accident killed 50 people when the plane stalled and plummeted to the earth outside Buffalo, N.Y. It was attributed to pilot error and fatigue.

The proposed rule would set a nine-hour minimum rest period prior to the start of a shift, a one-hour increase over the current minimum. Among other changes, the rule would set different rest requirements for pilots based on the time of day and number of scheduled segments, as well as time zones, types of flights and likelihood that a pilot is able to sleep under different circumstances.

But the trade group claims the new rules will cost the airline industry up to $2 billion annually. To absorb the costs, the trade group says it must cut 27,000 positions, leading to the elimination of 400,000 related travel jobs.

“We share the administration’s goal for a new rule that will lead to a real improvement in flight safety, but the FAA proposal will not accomplish that objective," said Nicholas E. Calio, president of the Air Transport Assn.


Deadly plane crash near Buffalo underscores safety gap, official says

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Copilot in Buffalo plane crash felt sick

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009. Credit: Associated Press