The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced a final rule that overhauls commercial passenger airline pilot scheduling to ensure pilots have a longer opportunity for rest.

The Department of Transportation identified the issue of pilot fatigue as a top priority during a 2009 airline Safety Call to Action. The FAA launched an aggressive effort to take advantage of the latest research on fatigue to create a new pilot flight, duty and rest proposal.

Key components of this final rule for commercial passenger flights include:

  • Varying flight and duty requirements based on what time the pilot’s day begins.  
  • Flight duty period.   
  • Flight time limits of eight or nine hours.  
  • 10-hour minimum rest period. 
  • New cumulative flight duty and flight time limits. 
  • Fitness for duty.  
  • Fatigue Risk Management System. 

In 2010, Congress mandated a Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP) for all airlines. An FRMP provides education for pilots and airlines to help address the effects of fatigue which can be caused by overwork, commuting, or other activities. Airlines will be required to train pilots about the potential effects of commuting.

Required training updates every two years will include fatigue mitigation measures, sleep fundamentals and the impact to a pilot’s performance. The training will also address how fatigue is influenced by lifestyle – including nutrition, exercise, and family life – as well as by sleep disorders and the impact of commuting.

To learn more about the FAA’s Final Rule or review the Talking Points or Press Release, members go to the FAA website.