The FAA on Monday will officially withdraw a proposed crew flight time limitation and rest rule that languished since its introduction in December 1995 as the agency develops an updated version "later this year".
Efforts to overhaul flight duty time and rest rules gained a new urgency earlier this year after indications emerged that pilots of the Colgan Air Q400 that crashed near Buffalo, New York in February may have been fatigued.
In response to the crash, the FAA launched a flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) in June, comprised of labour, industry and FAA officials to "develop recommendations for an FAA rule based on current fatigue science and a thorough review of international approaches to the issue," the agency said.
Earlier efforts included NASA research, US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations and a 1992 aviation rulemaking advisory committee (ARAC), all of which were incorporated into the FAA's 1995 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The FAA ultimately received more than 2,000 comments on the NPRM, noting, "Although some commenters, including the NTSB, NASA, Air Line Pilots Association and Allied Pilots Association, said the proposal would enhance safety, the same commenters had specific objections."
Included in the original NPRM were proposals for a 14-hour duty day for two-pilot operations and a 10-hour flight time limit.
"Many industry associations opposed the NPRM, stating the FAA lacked safety data to justify the rulemaking, and industry compliance would impose significant costs," the agency says, adding that reserve duty time proposals, allowing a 32-hour in seven days limit on flight time and a 10-hour rest period, generated the most controversy with air carrier associations and operators.
Based on the objections, the FAA launched a follow-on ARAC in 1998 to study the issues.