By Shirley Hawkins
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed new rules Saturday with regulations that before pilots go on duty, they must now get 10-hour rest periods, including eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
They must also have 30 consecutive hours of rest each week, a 25% increase over previous requirements.
The rules also limit a pilot’s time in the cockpit to eight or nine hours.
Pilot fatigue was identified as a cause of the 2009 Colgan Air crash that killed 50 people near Buffalo, N.Y. Investigators said pilot fatigue contributed to the crash and prompted the FAA to make changes to pilot rest policies.
Barry Schiff, an airline safety consultant, says pilots can get extremely tired on long flights.
“When the passengers are asleep in the cabin, the pilots are up there working,” Schiff said. “It can be mentally fatiguing.”
In response to the new rules, airlines have added pilots, enlisted more reserve pilots to be on call to fill vacancies, and improved their scheduling systems.