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FAA presses airlines on fatigue management plans

US regulators have reminded carriers of the need to file fatigue risk management plans as mandated by legislation that was finalised in August.

Pilot fatigue came under intense scrutiny by US legislators and regulators following the February 2009 crash of a Colgan Airways Bombardier Q400. During the accident investigation questions arose over Colgan's monitoring of crew practices related to fatigue management.

Legislation requires each Part 121 operator to submit to the Federal Aviation Administration a plan that provides for a rest scheme consistent with flight time and duty period limitations; training to increase awareness of fatigue and its effects on pilots; and fatigue countermeasures.

Additionally, each operator is required to develop a scheme for assessing the effectiveness of its fatigue management plan, which must be updated and resubmitted for approval every two years. Failure to comply could result in a civil penalty issued by the FAA.

The FAA has denied airlines' requests to extend the comment period for its draft rule aimed at combating fatigue by altering pilot flight and duty time.

UPS in particular had argued that the 31 October deadline to submit the fatigue risk management plan is taking time and resources away from crafting comments on the proposed rule.

But the FAA insists comments are required by 15 November for it to meet its legislator-mandated deadline to release a new flight and duty time rule by 1 August 2011.

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