FAA scraps ultra long-range crew rest upgrade

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The US FAA has rescinded a proposed operations specifications requirement for airlines to provide additional rest for pilots flying ultra long-range flights, those with legs of more than 16h.

The change, modelled on a programme Delta Air Lines had developed for its New York JFK to Mumbai route, called for extra rest periods for pilots before and after such flights as well as additional crew sleep areas in some cases. The Atlanta-Mumbai flight, which was abandoned by the carrier in August, takes nearly 18h westbound using the Boeing 777-200LR.

While current rest rules require eight hours of rest in any given 24h "look back" period, the ultra long-range rules, based on circadian rhythm science, would have required two days of rest before such a flight and one day after, says a FAA spokeswoman.

Airlines rejected the proposal however, arguing in part that FAA must go through a formal rulemaking process rather than modifying operations specifications for such changes in order to collect the most accurate data from the public.