Monday, September 13, 2010

Newsy: FAA Tries to Fix 'Sleepy Pilot' Problem

The FAA proposed new regulations to ensure that pilots get an adequate amount of sleep. These new regulations come as a result of flight 3407.

“The Colgan accident that occurred 18 months ago was clearly a pivotal moment. It really brought all the players together. The industry, congress, and the FAA, and recognized that here were inadequacies in the system that needed to be addressed.”(MSNBC)

The Colgan Air Flight 3407 that crashed near Buffalo, New York took the lives 50 people and caused the FAA to review its safety procedures. Now-- the FAA is proposing a set of new rules, one in particular designed to tackle the “sleepy pilot” problem.

ABC news explains how the new sleep guidelines will give pilots time for more than just a cat nap: “Currently pilots must have 8 hours off a day for rest, but that includes time to get to a hotel, eat a meal and return, meaning they might get 4 hours of sleep or less. Under the new rule, pilots must be scheduled for nine hours of actual rest time. Currently pilots can be scheduled to a 16 hour day regardless if that mean working in the middle of the night. Under the new rule, their day will top out at 13 hours and even less if they are working the late shift.”

But a reporter for The Buffalo News says the proposed rules don’t get to the root of the problem: “The proposal also does not include any hard and fast rules aimed at limiting pilots from commuting thousands of miles overnight from their homes to their work stations -- which is just what the pilot and co-pilot of Flight 3407 did the night before the crash.”

NBC’s Tom Costello tells affiliate WGRZ the proposed rules are a step in the right direction-- but flying safely is ultimately the pilot’s responsibility: “It is up to the crew to maintain professionalism, to do their jobs, to not fly when you are fatigued, to not commute across the country on just a few hours of sleep in the crew room. Professionalism has to be something that is felt throughout the organization from the cockpit down to the ramp up to the control tower.”

And according to a Washington Post article, the new regulations would come with a price tag: “The rules would negatively affect airlines if schedule changes or fresh crews were required. The FAA has estimated that the regulations could cost airlines $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.”

So what do you think of the new suggested regulations? Make you feel safer? Or is this just common sense?

Writer: Matthew Hibbard

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

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