MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – New rules take effect Saturday to limit pilot hours in the cockpit, and to make sure they’re getting enough rest between flights.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now requires that all commercial pilots receive 30 uninterrupted, off-duty hours per week – a 25-percent increase from previous regulations.
Before they go on duty, pilots must now get 10-hour rest periods, including eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
And depending on when their flight begins, the rules limit a pilot’s time in the cockpit to eight or nine hours.
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.”
Pilot fatigue was identified as a cause of the 2009 Colgan Air crash that killed 50 people near Buffalo, N.Y., and prompted the FAA to make changes to pilot rest policies.