FAA rules on pilot fatigue have changed little since the heyday of the DC-3, despite the increased strains on pilots due to terrorism, advanced technology, and the greater potential for jet lag when crossing multiple time zones in a relatively short period. In his Fast Lane blog this morning, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said his department would propose new rules today requiring that pilots have an opportunity for at least nine hours of rest before a flight (an hour longer than current rules), at least 30 consecutive hours off duty every week (a 25 percent increase), and new weekly and monthly duty limits.
Expect some backlash from the airline industry.
The Air Transport Association, in a brief on its website, questions whether the new rules would save enough lives to justify the additional cost to airlines, "which could reach into the billions of dollars."
A public comment period starts on Friday afternoon. Let the rule-makers know your thoughts at www.regulations.gov.
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure.