Chairman Rockefeller and Commerce Committee Members Push FAA to Address Pilot Fatigue

December 10, 2009

SCom: AviationWASHINGTON, D.C.–In a letter to FAA Administrator Randolph (Randy) Babbitt, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Ranking Member of the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee Jim DeMint (R-SC) joined together along with Senators Snowe, Kerry, Klobuchar, Lautenberg, Thune, Begich, and Johanns and wrote that the issue of pilot fatigue must be addressed.

Today, FAA Administrator Babbitt testified before the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee today at a hearing on Aviation Safety: Oversight of FAA Safety Initiatives. 

The letter sent reads:

Dear Administrator Babbitt,

Aviation safety is the top priority for the Aviation Subcommittee, and we know this view is shared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We look forward to your upcoming testimony at our hearing on FAA’s safety initiatives.

One of the topics we plan to address at the hearing is pilot fatigue. The subcommittee recently held a hearing to examine this issue, which has been on the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Most Wanted List for 19 years. The current FAA guidelines on flight time and duty limitations were set back in the 1940s. It is critical that the FAA revise these rules as quickly as possible. 

Although we appreciate the commitment you made in August to update these regulations, it was troubling to learn from the FAA at the hearing last week that the time frame for completing this process has already been delayed. We expect the FAA to consider this issue a priority and to keep on a timeline that will update the regulations without more delay.

We look forward to discussing this and other important safety concerns at the hearing.