AGENCY to tighten up enforcement of existing pilot rest rules

Tuesday, May 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Aviation Administration is reiterating 1985 rules on pilot flight time and rest rules and says it intends to move to a policy of strict enforcement in six months.

In a statement Monday announcing its intent to republish the rules this week in the Federal Register, the FAA said it ``is confident that, overall, the airline industry complies with the current FAA rules on pilot time limitations and rest requirements.''

It noted that in response to ``concerns raised by the pilot community'' _ mainly unions _ the agency notified airlines in June of 1999 of their obligation to follow the flight time and rest requirements.

``Reviews of airline scheduling practices conducted in December 1999 and ongoing discussions with pilot unions and airlines confirm that the vast majority of pilots are receiving the amount of rest required by the FAA's rule,'' the announcement said.

The agency noted that it responded last November to a letter from the Allied Pilots Association ``that set forth specific scenarios that could affect a very small number of all commercial pilots.''

``The FAA's response was consistent with the agency's long-standing interpretation of the current rules,'' the statement said. ``In summary, the FAA reiterated that each flight crew member must have a minimum of eight hours of rest in any 24-hour period that includes flight time. If a pilot's actual rest was less than nine hours in the 24-hour period, the next rest period must be lengthened to provide for the appropriate compensatory rest.''

It said the FAA ``does not anticipate that the notice will result in major disruptions to airline schedules'' but that ``some flights may be canceled or delayed to ensure that pilots have appropriate rest.''