U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) today introduced the Safe Skies Act, legislation designed to ensure that America’s cargo plane pilots are sufficiently rested before they fly.
Senator Boxer said, “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that pilots of cargo planes are well-rested before they get in the cockpit. I am pleased to join so many of our nation’s passenger and cargo plane pilots who have come together to support this important safety bill.”
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“As research from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee clearly shows, it is vital that pilots have time to sleep and recuperate before returning to flight,” said Senator Snowe. “The FAA rules that prohibit pilots of passenger flights from flying while fatigued that are scheduled to go into effect in 2014 must also be extended to cover cargo plane pilots. I am pleased to join with Senator Boxer in introducing this bipartisan legislation so we can continue to ensure and improve safety in our skies.”
In 2009, Senators Boxer and Snowe introduced S. 1284, the Ensuring One Level of Aviation Safety Act, which was passed as part of H.R. 5900, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act. Based on this legislation, the Department of Transportation recently issued a rule to address pilot fatigue issues.
The rule, which will prohibit pilots of passenger planes from flying while fatigued, is scheduled to go into effect in January of 2014. Under the rule, pilots of passenger planes will be limited to flying eight or nine hours, depending on the start time. Minimum rest periods will be 10 hours, with the opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
However, as it currently stands, pilots of cargo planes would be exempt from this new rule. This exemption allows cargo pilots to be on duty for up to 16 hours in a given day. The new Boxer-Snowe legislation would close this loophole and ensure that all pilots are flying under the same standards.
The Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations all support the Boxer-Snowe bill. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Chip Cravaack (R-MN) and Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY).