Buffalo crash, other incidents prompt aviation agency to expedite rule changes.
Pilot fatigue has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's list of "most wanted safety fixes" since 1990. This year, something might finally be done to address it.
The administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Randolph Babbitt, himself a retired pilot, this week said he would expedite the establishment of new rules to guide how many hours pilots can fly each day and each month.
His decision follows fatigue-related incidents, including February's crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo, N.Y., in which all 49 people on board were killed along with one person on the ground. The NTSB has said pilot fatigue was a contributing factor. Operated by Colgan Air, a regional carrier based in Virginia, the flight became the subject of congressional hearings and prompted a flurry of news stories about pilot fatigue and the grueling schedules and low pay of pilots who fly for smaller, regional carriers.
Moreover, the NTSB this week released its report on another fatigue-related incident in February, in which two pilots for the regional carrier go! in Hawaii fell asleep with the autopilot on and flew past their destination by 26 miles. Neither air traffic controllers nor other planes could contact them for 18 minutes. Then they woke up.
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