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FAA scraps ultra-long-range crew rest upgrade

The US Federal Aviation Administration has rescinded a proposed operations specifications requirement for airlines to provide additional rest for pilots flying ultra-long-range flights, those with legs of more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 Kennedy 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 8h 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 the FAA.

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 to collect the most accurate data from the public.

Boeing 777-200LR
 © Boeing

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