Last week, U.S. Representatives Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 4350, the “Safe Skies Act of 2012,” in Congress. The bipartisan legislation extends pilot rest requirements to cargo pilots — a concept endorsed by leading associations, including the Independent Pilots Association and the Air Line Pilots Association.
The February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 led the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to establish a pilot fatigue rule passenger flights. The mandate, which requires pilots to rest eight hours between shifts, was finalized on January 4, and is slated to go into effect on Jan. 14, 2014. Cargo pilots, however, are exempt from the ruling.
Cravaack believes it’s an oversight that could have potentially dangerous consequences. “As a former cargo pilot, I understand the importance of a single standard of safety for pilots who share the same airspace and runways with passenger aircraft,” he said in a statement. “I introduced the Safe Skies Act in order to apply the new, common-sense standards for pilot rest to cargo pilots as well.”
The IPA, which represents UPS pilots, applauded the legislation introduced by Cravaack and cosponsored by Bishop. In a press release, IPA President Capt. Robert Travis spoke out about the “real leadership” Cravaack showed last week, commenting that the Safe Skies Act “will bring the FAA’s final rule back in line with Congress’s original intent: one level of safety for U.S. aviation.”
ALPA President Capt. Lee Moak echoed Travis’ statements. “All airline pilots are human beings, and all airline operations should benefit from the same high safety standards,” he said in a statement.
“This bill would achieve what Congress intended when it passed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Act of 2010, by mandating that the FAA’s regulations apply to all commercial airline pilots, regardless of whether they fly passengers or cargo,” Moak added.