The Teamsters and the Independent Pilots Association have both thrown their support behind a new bill in Congress known as the Safe Skies Act of 2013. This bill would apply the same regulations governing rest periods to cargo pilots that are already in place for pilots of passenger planes. The bill would affect the pilots of UPS and other cargo planes. When the original bill, the Safe Skies Act, governing rest periods for passenger planes was passed in 2011, cargo pilots were excluded because these pilots often get bonus periods of rest while their planes are loaded and unloaded. The bill requires pilots to get a rest period of ten hours between each shift, with a minimum of eight hours sleep time. According to the time at which their day starts, pilots can work a maximum of nine to fourteen hours before a rest period. Pilots beginning a flight at 7 a.m. can stay on duty for up to fourteen hours, but a pilot taking off at midnight (when studies show fatigue is most likely to cause an accident) can only stay on duty for up to nine hours.
The Teamsters and the Independent Pilots Association believe that rest for cargo pilots is just as important as for those pilots carrying passengers. Though the planes are not loaded with people, damage to life and property is still at stake when pilots become overly fatigued. Under the current law, pilots must sign a “fit to fly” statement, which states that they are not fatigued and are fit for duty. If a pilot is unable to sign the statement, the airline is required to put a substitute pilot in place. This makes pilot fitness for flying a shared responsibility between the airline and the pilots.
The Safe Skies Act of 2013 does not make any changes to the regulations passed in 2011. It merely applies the same regulations to cargo pilots.