Rockefeller, Cantwell Support New Pilot Fatigue Rules

December 21, 2011

SCom: AviationWASHINGTON, D.C.—Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV and Aviation Subcommittee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell today came out in support of the Department of Transportation’s new rule to prevent airline pilots from flying while fatigued.

“These rules are long overdue,” Rockefeller said.  “The Commerce Committee’s documented oversight of the aviation industry has shown updating the flight time and duty limitation regulations needed to occur in light of a changing industry.  Implementation of these pilot fatigue rules will go a long way toward improving the safety of America’s skies, but we must keep fighting for more comprehensive FAA legislation, which contains numerous safety provisions to reduce runway incursions and to improve FAA’s oversight of air carriers’ safety operations.”

“These rules are a strong step forward to improve the safety of America’s air passengers,” said Cantwell.  “Air travelers deserve to know that their pilot is well rested and prepared for a safe flight.  This overhaul of how passenger airlines schedule pilots was necessary and a long time coming.  I appreciate the hard work by the families of Colgan Air flight 3407 passengers in working to improve safety.  I intend to hold an oversight hearing next year on aviation safety to ensure these rules are working and to explore other ways we can keep our skies the safest in the world.” 


Congress took steps to implement regulations on how many hours a pilot can be on duty when it passed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 last year.  The measure included provisions to address pilot training, pilot fatigue, and mandating a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying time before a pilot can operate a commercial passenger aircraft. 

In December 2009, the Senate Commerce Committee also convened a hearing on the issue of pilot fatigue.  This followed the tragic crash of Flight 3407 that took the lives of 50 people.  Chairman Rockefeller and Committee Members heard from expert witnesses on the need to address the issue of insufficient rest for pilots operating commercial passenger aircraft.