Bill would expand rest regulations to include cargo plane pilots
Congressman Brian Higgins is cosponsoring the Safe Skies Act of 2021 (H.R. 4075). This bill, led by Rep. Salud Carbajal of California, builds on previous flight safety legislation to ensure that cargo pilots fly a safe number of hours and have sufficient rest.
A longtime advocate for aviation safety for flight crews and the flying public, Higgins has supported the bill in previous sessions.
He said, “Following the tragic crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence, New York, we fought alongside Western New Yorkers to address pilot fatigue regulations for passenger airlines. The Safe Skies Act builds on this work to create uniform rest requirements for cargo pilots and safer skies for everyone.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found pilot fatigue to be a contributing factor in the crash of Flight 3407 on Feb. 12, 2009. Led by Higgins’ advocacy, Congress passed legislation requiring updated rules for flight, duty and rest requirements, which went into effect in January of 2014. It required pilots of passenger airlines be limited to eight or nine hours of flying depending on the start time of the flight. Additionally, it required airlines to provide pilots with at least 10 hours of rest, with the opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
However, cargo pilots were not included in the DOT’s final ruling on rest regulations. As a result, cargo pilots can be on duty for up to 16 hours per day, which is 60% longer than pilots of passenger planes. The Safe Skies Act directs the secretary of transportation to modify the rule regarding flight crewmember duty and rest requirements for passenger airlines to include all cargo operations conducted by airlines.
The Safe Skies Act is supported by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) and the Independent Pilots Association (IPA).