Are Cargo Pilots Being Treated Unfairly?

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has come under criticism for its refusal to change new pilot rest requirements for all-cargo airlines.

The FAA should apply the same duty time rules of both passenger and cargo pilots, urges the Independent Pilots Assoc
The FAA should apply the same duty time rules of both passenger and cargo pilots, urges the Independent Pilots Assoc

A strange set up
This was reported on by the renowned aviation magazine Flight International towards the end of 2014 and the FAA’s standpoint seems not to have changed.
Their ruling which came into effect in early January basically set new duty time rules for pilots of passenger aircraft, but did not change them for those flying all-cargo aircraft.
The new ruling for the pax pilots stipulates they have a minimum of 10 hours rest before flight and does not allow pilot’s flight time to exceed 8 or 9 hours. The one hour difference is depending on when actual flight time begins.

Does it have to do with safety or cost savings?
It’s hard to tell as the new ruling is quite complex and deals to a large part with so called “estimated savings” for airlines.

The new ruling which is listed as FAR 117 in the FAA textbook was prompted strangely enough by those investigating the crash in 2009 of a Colgan Air aircraft near Buffalo, New York.
A strange formula has been put out by the FAA to back up their argument not to apply the rules for cargo carriers.
Namely: - that they (cargo carriers) would have an additional cost of up to U.S.$452 million over a ten year period, whereby the passenger airlines would have costs of U.S.$462 million but at the same time have additional benefits between U.S.$401 and U.S.$750 million.

And- this is where we get lost!
The U.S. Independent Pilots Association (IPA), who also represents the UPS pilots, is in a legal wrangle with the FAA.
They are urging the FAA to apply the same duty time rules for both passenger and cargo pilots.
IPA is supported in their challenge also by ALPA, the International Airline Pilots Association.
Their combined aim is to achieve new rest time requirements for cargo pilots. This move was further prompted by the loss of a UPS A300 freighter near Birmingham International (USA) airport in 2013, whereby the report on this crash which was issued in 2014 also showed evidence of flight deck crew fatigue.

Maybe some of our more flight deck orientated readers can enlighten us on the subject!

John Mc Donagh

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