BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The families of Flight 3407 have endured a long and painful fight. Now, the crusade for justice and safety in memory of their loved ones has achieved a new victory. The FAA has announced new rules to fight pilot fatigue.
Basically the government is now telling passenger airlines they'll have to do more to ensure pilots aren't too tired to fly. They are the first regulations to stem from the Clarence Center crash of Flight 3407, which claimed 50 lives.
The Federal Aviation Administration's new rules involve pilot fatigue and it comes nearly three years after the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "This took 25 years. We did it in three years following the Colgan Air crash, and we think we got it right."
In the Clarence Center crash, neither pilot appeared to have slept in a bed the previous night.
The flight's captain had logged onto a computer in the middle of the night from an airport crew lounge. The first officer had commuted overnight from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey, much of the time sitting in a cockpit jump seat.
LaHood said, "This took too long. It took too long beyond the Colgan Air crash. But these things take a long time because you're involving pilots and the airlines."
The new rules require a ten hour minimum opportunity for rest prior to the duty period, that a two-hour increase over the current rules. The new rules call for measuring a pilot's rest period differently so that pilots can receive at least eight hours of sleep.
Currently, the system calculated the commute time it takes for pilots to get from airports to hotels.
Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, "Airline pilots will be fully rested and more alert because we're creating the conditions for more rest and better rest before flying."
There's also a decrease in maximum duty time. Under the new rules, maximum duty time would range between nine and 14 hours, depending on start time and number of flight segments.
Currently, pilots can be on duty for as long as 16 consecutive hours.
Representatives Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul singles out family members of the crash victims who fought hard for the safety reforms.
Higgins said, "This is a great victory for democracy. It's a great victory for the cause they committed themselves to."
Hochul said, "It was a tragedy that bound us together. It did not seek partisan lines. This was absolutely a non-partisan effort."
Passenger air carriers have two years to adapt to the new rules. They will cost the airline industry nearly $300 million. But, the new rules don't apply to cargo carriers. FAA officials say it would have been too costly.
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