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RCP_0709_p08-15:Hangar Talk 8/12/09 10:43 PM Page 10
Pilot Flight Time, Rest and Fatigue
Source: FAA
Ensuring that all pilots receive ade- Overview of the tinuous hours of rest during the 24-hour
quate rest is key to maintaining a safe avi-
Federal Aviation Regulations
period. In other words, the pilot needs to
ation system. While the current FAA be able to look back in any preceding 24-
rules are fundamentally sound and have Regulations limiting flight time and pi- hour period and find that he/she has had
contributed to an excellent safety record, lot rest have been in place since the 1940s. an opportunity for at least eight hours of
fatigue remains a very real aviation safety The rules for domestic flights do not ex- rest. If a pilot’s actual rest is less than nine
issue. The FAA is interested in any new plicitly address the amount of time a pi- hours in the 24-hour period, the next rest
fatigue research that would assist the lot can be on duty. Rather, the rules period must be lengthened to provide for
agency with enhancing its rules and that address flight time limitations and re- the appropriate compensatory rest. Airline
promotes industry best practices for fa- quired rest periods. Current FAA regula- rules may be stricter than the FAA’s reg-
tigue risk management. tions for domestic flights generally limit ulations if the issue is part of a collective
Airplanes operate globally in 24 time pilots to eight hours of flight time during a bargaining agreement.
zones. Domestic short leg, multi-leg, and 24-hour period. This limit may be ex- Flight time and rest rules for U.S. air
long-haul flights all present challenges. tended provided the pilot receives addi- carrier international flights are different
Engine technology has evolved enabling tional rest at the end of the flight. from the rules for domestic flights. Inter-
airplanes to fly much further than in the However, a pilot is not allowed to accept, national flights can involve more than the
past. Since many air carriers fly non-stop nor is an airline allowed to assign, a flight standard two-pilot crew and are more
ultra-long-range flights, the FAA contin- if the pilot has not had at least eight con- complex due to the scope of the opera-
ues to evaluate the latest research on the
effects of time zone changes on circadian
rhythm and time zone changes to mitigate
A pilot is not allowed to accept, nor is an airline
pilot fatigue. The FAA continues to be at
allowed to assign, a flight if the pilot has not had
the forefront of raising awareness of fa-
tigue and mitigation techniques.
at least eight continuous hours of rest during the
The FAA last proposed updating the
24-hour period. In other words, the pilot needs to
rules in 1995 but, based on industry com-
ments, the rule was not adopted. Since be able to look back in any preceding 24-hour period
then, the agency has reiterated the rules
and find that he/she has had an opportunity for at
and kept pace with a changing industry by
allowing airlines to use the latest fatigue least eight hours of rest.
mitigation techniques to enhance safety.
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