The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has released its findings regarding flight, duty and rest requirements for all-cargo operations, issuing an Initial Supplemental Regulatory Impact Analysis, which details the impacts a proposed final ruling would have on the industry's pilots.
The move corrects the FAA's December 2011 rule that limited pilot duty and rest requirements to passenger pilots only starting in 2014. A 60-day comment period on the findings has commenced.
According to a Transportation Department docket published today in the Federal Register, cargo-only operations aren't required to abide by the new flight, duty and rest requirements for pilots, but may choose to opt in if desired. The Independent Pilots Association, which represents UPS pilots, objected and filed a petition, claiming the FAA's reason for not including cargo operations in the rule — a cost-based decision — was wrong. Due to the IPA's action, the FAA found a few errors in its cost-benefit calculations and revisited the rule. But the IPA still isn't pleased.
"In the original Regulatory Impact Analysis, the portion of scheduling costs related to cargo-only operations of air carriers that conduct both passenger and cargo-only operations (mixed operations carriers) were inadvertently excluded from the reported costs of extending the final rule to cargo-only operations," according to the document. "This Initial Supplemental RIA fixes that omission and that revision has significantly increased the estimates of the stated costs of extending the final rule to cargo-only operations. Due to inclusion of impacts on cargo-only operations, a few air carriers were reclassified for ease of explication."
The FAA's assistant chief council, Rebecca MacPherson, provided IPA members with a statement explaining that the changes have no impact on the final rule, and in fact, simply validate the exclusion of all-cargo carriers.
“The Initial Supplemental RIA results in data that provides greater justification for the exclusion of cargo operations from the final rule, and continues to provide justification for the final rule on passenger operations," she stated. "As a result, the FAA has determined that no revisions to the final rule on either cargo or passenger operations is warranted.”
The IPA takes issue with the heart of the matter — that cargo pilots can be excluded from any required-rest rule because implementation would cost too much.
"We still reject the application of a cost-benefit analysis on the FAA’s Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements; we do not believe that it was Congress’ intent to address the important issue of pilot fatigue only if the price-is-right," Capt. Robert Travis, the IPA's president, said in a statement. "Having initially reviewed the FAA’s Initial Supplemental Regulatory Impact Analysis, we find it to be flawed, just like its original analysis that was used to carve-out cargo carriers. The IPA will file detailed comment on the ISRIA and will release more details at that time.” - Jon Ross