FedEx pilots angry they were left out of new pilot fatigue rules - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FedEx pilots angry they were left out of new pilot fatigue rules

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - FedEx union leaders had strong words after the Federal Aviation Administration excluded cargo pilots from the new pilot fatigue rule.

"It's politics and money that came into play in this carve out," said Captain Scott Stratton.

Wednesday, the FAA ruled commercial pilots must rest a minimum of 10 hours between flights.

"Very best rule for the flying public," said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

This comes after an investigation blamed pilot fatigue on the 2009 Colgan Air crash that killed 50 people near Buffalo.

Stratton, chairman of  the Air Line Pilots Association's Fedex Master Executive Council, said the FAA's reasoning to exclude cargo pilots because they transport property, not people, is "absurd."

"Pilots in cargo do the same job, they fly the same air space, and they're just as susceptible to fatigue," said Stratton.

FedEx spokesman Jim McClusky said scheduling is different for commercial versus cargo flights.

"One particular set of standards does not fit every carrier segment," said McClusky.

Stratton said the FAA exaggerated the $214 million price tag to include cargo carriers in the new rule, but said there will be some costs.

"Safety has a cost, so it's well worth it," said Stratton.

LaHood offered an invitation for cargo carriers.

"I'm going to invite the CEOs of cargo companies to come to my office and encourage them to implement this rule," said LaHood.

UPS pilots filed suit to be included into the new rule.  It is unclear if FedEx pilots will follow suit.

McClusky said FedEx already goes beyond requirements to ensure pilot safety.

"We've always operated under the FAA flight and duty rules and our own internal scheduling practices that provide additional protections not even required by regulations," he said.

Stratton said the union is reviewing the new rule and action may follow, depending on FedEx's next move.

"We don't view this as the battle is over," said Stratton.

The rules take effect in two years and are the first to address pilot fatigue in 25 years.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly