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Boxer introduces cargo pilot fatigue safety bill

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 1:23 pm in Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate.

Cargo plane pilots would have to be sufficiently rested and alert before they fly, under a bill introduced in the Senate today by Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Alabama UPS plane crash, August 2013 (AP Photo)Boxer, D-Calif., joined with Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to introduce the “Safe Skies Act,” which would require that cargo pilots adhere to the same standards as passenger plane pilots. “We must close this dangerous loophole to ensure that cargo pilots are well-rested before they fly,” Boxer said.

After a passenger jet crashed outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009, Congress passed a bill by Boxer and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, directing the Department of Transportation to write new rules addressing pilot fatigue. Those new rules, which will take effect in January, require that passenger plane pilots be limited to flying either eight or nine hours, depending on the start time. Airlines must give pilots a minimum of 10 rest hours, with the opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But cargo pilots were omitted from the new rules, and still could be on duty for up to 16 hours a day. The Air Line Pilots Association, the Independent Pilots Association and the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations support the Safe Skies Act.

Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y, had introduced a House version of this bill early this year, but it has sat dormant in a subcommittee ever since. They and retired airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Danville – renowned for his emergency landing of a jetliner in the Hudson River in 2009 – joined Boxer and Klobuchar at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol today.

“When a large plane flies over your house in the middle of the night, it doesn’t matter whether it’s carrying cargo or passengers, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican,” Sullenberger said. “The danger is all the same if the pilots are fatigued.”

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  • RRSenileColumnist

    There is no Repub or Dem way to fly a plane. Still, why is legislation required?

  • Ocean View

    Boxer is an idiot. “Fatigue”. What a joke. Non-flying public has zero clue what the actual ‘problem’ is with commercial/cargo flying and accidents.

  • JohnW

    The last paragraph quote from “Sully” seems like a pretty good answer to your question.

  • JohnW

    Are “Sully” and the pilot associations supporting this idiots too? I realize that they are unions, and limiting flying hours creates a need for more pilots. But “Sully” was a highly regarded aviation safety expert even before the “Miracle on the Hudson.”