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UPS pilots' union says FAA fatigue rule threatens public safety


LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The union representing airline cargo pilots at United Parcel Service of America Inc. said the Federal Aviation Administration's final rule on pilot fatigue threatens public safety.

Under the new rule finalized Wednesday, cargo pilots are exempt from a sweeping overhaul of commercial airline pilot scheduling, where pilots would fly shorter shifts and be given longer rest periods, the FAA said in statement.

“To potentially allow fatigued cargo pilots to share the same skies with properly rested passenger pilots creates an unnecessary threat to public safety,” said Robert Travis, president of Louisville, Ky.-based Independent Pilots Assn., which represents pilots at UPS, in a Wednesday statement.

Due to industry costs estimated at $297 million, the FAA said covering cargo pilots would be too costly when compared to the benefits generated in the industry and encouraged cargo operators to opt into the new rule voluntarily, the FAA said in the statement.

“Giving air cargo carriers the choice to opt-in to new pilot rest rules makes as much sense as allowing truckers to opt-out of drunk driving laws,” Mr. Travis said in the statement.

The rule, which will take effect in two years, stemmed largely from the February 2009 fatal crash of a Colgan Air Inc. passenger jet near Buffalo, N.Y. The National Transportation Safety Board cited pilot fatigue as a possible factor.

“Under intense pressure from the cargo industry lobby, the FAA has failed to carry out this basic congressional mandate,” Mr. Travis said in the statement.

The Independent Pilots Assn. said it will ask UPS to voluntarily operate under the new rule while it works to reverse the opt-in provision.