New Safety Regulations Aimed To Keep Sleepy Pilots Out Of The Cockpit, ATA Disagrees

by Frieda Flyer on February 14, 2011

in Commercial Air Travel

According to Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the industry is trying to “water down” the August 2010 safety regulations he sponsored after 50 people lost their lives in the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407.

The new regulations include more training for pilots, crew, flight attendants, engineers and dispatchers to be in place by October.  Also included are regulations aimed at keeping drowsy or overworked pilots out of the cockpits.  Schumer told the Associated Press he will call on the FAA to fight industry efforts to weaken the regulations.  Although not the direct cause of the crash near Buffalo, the NTSB found both pilots were probably fatigued.

“Rather than work to water-down vital safety regulations, we need the airline industry to come to the table to ensure we have the greatest possible protections for airplane passengers,” said Schumer, who was releasing letters to the FAA on Sunday. “The airline industry needs to recognize that the safer passengers feel, the more likely they will be to fly. Greater safety standards benefit the industry and most importantly, benefit the American public.”

The Air Transport Association, an airline “trade association,” stated improvements to insure the safety of passengers and crew is a continuous process and is their number one priority.  The Association contends the rules will not improve safety as they are currently written.

Nonscheduled airlines such as those carrying troops and military cargo worldwide want to be exempt from the new regulations due to the unpredictable nature of their jobs.  The FAA refuses to create separate rules for nonscheduled airlines and pilots’ unions oppose a bill that would exempt the nonscheduled airlines.

According to Schumer, the Air Transportation Association sent a letter to lawmakers calling the new regulations unnecessary and bad for business.

I would think flying with overly tired, under-trained pilots and crew and deadly crashes would be bad for business as well.   But apparently the Washington, D.C.–headquartered ATA thinks otherwise.

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