Friday, 3 January 2014

New Wake Up Call For Poilots

Under new rules, scheduling must factor in flights when pilots report for work late at night or early in the morning, because of possible fatigue. Associated Press
U.S. passenger airlines are bracing for the start of new federal regulations on Saturday that will guarantee their pilots more rest time and restrict the hours they can put in behind the cockpit controls.
The new regulations are the biggest rewrite of pilot flight, duty and rest rules since the advent of the jet age. Airlines, which have prepared for nearly two years, say they hope the changes don't force new delays or cancellations. But some in the industry fear the tighter limits will exacerbate disruptions that already occur for reasons like bad weather.
"Delays incurred tomorrow will have an even greater impact than today," Marisa Von Wieding, JetBlue Airways Corp, vice president of systems operations control, wrote in a memo to pilots this week. "Everything we know about planning for and operating in winter storms, de-ice events, spring thunderstorms, summer rolling [air-traffic control delay] programs and hurricane season will change on some level."
The Federal Aviation Administration's rules for the first time demand that scheduling factor in when pilots report for work late at night or early in the morning, because such flying inherently is more fatiguing. Schedules also will depend on how many takeoffs and landings are included, and whether pilots have changed one or more time zones before reporting for duty. And airlines will need to more rigorously ensure that pilots have uninterrupted rest time before flights.
In preparation, airlines have added pilots, expanded rosters of reserve pilots on call to fill vacancies in the schedule, and revamped computer programs for pilot scheduling and crew tracking.
United Continental Holdings Inc. said it is hiring 60 to 100 pilots a month to prepare for the new duty rules and to cope with an increase in retirements. It plans to establish a desk devoted to the rest rules in its network operations center during storms and other irregular operations. All of its nearly 12,000 pilots have received training on the new regulations.