Lawmakers seek DOT action on new pilot fatigue rules

Washington DC
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Two members of Congress have written a letter to the US Transportation Secretary expressing "concern and disappointment" that no rule changes on the issue of pilot fatigue have been put forward, despite assurances that it was a top priority.

"While we recognize that the science of fatigue is complicated and that the DOT [Department of Transportation] must study and understand the ramifications of any change in existing regulations, a comprehensive review has not occurred in over 60 years," say US Representatives James Oberstar and John Mica in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It is unacceptable that the DOT has not finished the process begun in 1995 to update the flight and duty regulations for airline pilots."

But the DOT maintains that pilot fatigue remains a priority and work continues on new rules.

"Safety is our number one priority and addressing pilot fatigue is a crucial step toward making our skies safer, says LaHood. "This rule is under review and we're working as quickly as possible to put forth a proposal."

A year ago, the DOT declared that new rules were needed to address pilot fatigue - an issue that sparked renewed interest in the aftermath of a deadly crash of a Colgan Air Q400 that killed 50 people in February 2009. Pilot Fatigue continues to be identified as a contributing factor in a number of aviation accidents. The DOT directed an industry aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to come up with recommendations for flight and duty time revisions.

"Now is the time for DOT to fulfill its obligation to put forward new regulations," says Oberstar and Mica. "The safety of the traveling public is paramount and we urge DOT to follow through on its commitment."