UPS pilots on Tuesday filed a petitioner's brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's exclusion of cargo operations from new rules governing pilot duty and rest requirements.
"The FAA acted contrary to Congress' mandate when the agency published new pilot duty and rest rules in December excluding a vast and growing segment of U.S. commercial aviation – cargo,” said William Trent, general counsel for the Independent Pilots Association. “Congress specifically directed the FAA to address the problem of pilot fatigue by issuing new rules based on the best available science.
"The FAA initially agreed, stating that the old rules 'are inadequate to guard against fatigue and present an unacceptable risk to the public.' Yet the same agency, under intense cargo industry pressure, abruptly made a 180 degree turn and left cargo pilots under the same set of flawed rules that the FAA and Congress found lacking," he said.
UPS pilots said they are challenging the FAA decision on three primary grounds:
- FAA's exclusion of cargo was based solely on a "cost-benefit" analysis Congress never authorized the agency to employ.
- FAA exceeded its authority by relying on a “sketchy, imprecise 'cost-benefit' formula” that failed to account for benefits even the FAA acknowledged would accrue by applying the new rules to all cargo operations and in failing to consider other obvious benefits.
- FAA failed to provide the public with legally required notice and opportunity to comment both with respect to its intent to treat cargo differently than passenger operations, and with respect to its reliance on a flawed cost-benefit formula that was made public, for the first time, only after announcing the new rule excluding cargo.
"Importantly, however, the IPA does not seek to overturn the new rules as they relate to passenger operations, but only to have the court order the FAA to reconsider the inclusion of cargo operations consistent with its mandate from Congress and laws requiring adequate notice and opportunity for public comment," Trent said.
The court has ordered that the FAA file its respondent's brief by May 24. To see the IPA petitioner's brief and other materials related to IPA v. FAA, Cargo Airlines Association
, access the association's Website
. — Eric Johnson