January 10, 2013
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) intends to reintroduce legislation applying pilot rest rules to cargo pilots, buttressing bipartisan efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives for uniform fatigue standards across all sectors of the aviation industry.
Boxer, a senior member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has not yet decided when she will offer the bill, her spokesman tells Aviation Week.
Nevertheless, Boxer remains committed to ending an exemption for cargo pilots from the FAA’s flight time limits, minimum rest periods and other standards set to go into effect for their counterparts at passenger airlines in 2014. Boxer called that exemption a loophole when she and former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced a version of the Safe Skies Act last June. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that pilots of cargo planes are well-rested before they get in the cockpit,” she said at the time.
Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) earlier this week introduced their own Safe Skies Act (Aviation Daily, Jan. 8). They say all pilots should be subject to the rules, whether they are charged with transporting passengers or cargo.
FedEx and UPS, however, will continue to fight the renewed push on Capitol Hill. Airfreight operations should not be subject to the rules, UPS has said, because their cargo pilots already fly far fewer hours per month than pilots at passenger airlines and have greater opportunities for rest.
The FAA intends to move forward with the carve-out. A challenge from the Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS pilots, is pending in federal court.