Bill would apply same rest rules to cargo flights as commercial airlines to prevent dangers posed by fatigued pilots

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroduced the bicameral Safe Skies Act, which would ensure America’s cargo plane pilots are sufficiently rested and alert before they fly.

This legislation is led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and cosponsored by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), John Garamendi (D-CA) and Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ). 

“It shouldn’t matter if a pilot is flying a cargo or a commercial plane – it is critical we address pilot fatigue,” Klobuchar said. “Closing this loophole will help prevent potential tragedies and ensure the safety of all involved.”

“It should go without saying that cargo pilots and crews deserve to be safe in their workplace. More needs to be done to ensure pilots, crews, passengers, and all who share our skies are safe. The bipartisan Safe Skies Act is a commonsense bill that puts safety first,”?Carbajal  said.?“By applying the same rules that keep commercial pilots safe to cargo pilots, we can close a dangerous loophole that puts undue stress and fatigue on our cargo pilots. We need one strong standard of safety and this bill would make that standard a reality.”

After the tragic 2009 crash of Colgan Flight 3407 outside of Buffalo, Congress passed legislation that directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to write new rules to address pilot fatigue. The legislation required pilots of passenger planes to be limited to flying either eight or nine hours, depending on the start time. It also required airlines to provide pilots with a minimum of 10 rest hours, with the opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

However, pilots of cargo planes were left out of the DOT’s rest rules, allowing cargo pilots to be on duty for up to 16 hours a day, 60 percent longer than other pilots. This legislation would close this dangerous loophole and ensure that all pilots are flying under the same standards. The Safe Skies Act is supported by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), and the Independent Pilots Association (IPA).

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