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DOT proposes new pilot flight rules

[This post has been updated]

U.S. transportation and labor officials said some airline pilots would fly fewer hours and others more hours under a proposal to help lessen pilot fatigue.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday in his blog that the proposal will include different requirements based on the time of day, number of scheduled flight segments, flight types and time zones.

It would also require that pilots be given nine hours of rest between work days, an increase of an hour over current rules.

The proposal is an attempt to prevent tired pilots from making errors that cause crashes. It would update decades-old rules governing pilot work schedules with more flexible, scientifically based standards.

"I know firsthand that fighting fatigue is a serious issue, and it is the joint responsibility of both the airline and the pilot," said Federal Aviation Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt. "After years of debate, the aviation community is moving forward to give pilots the tools they need to manage fatigue and fly safely."

A crash near Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009 spurred the effort to change flight rules. The National Transportation Safety Board found that both pilots on the flight were probably suffering from fatigue, although that wasn't a direct cause of the crash. Coleman T. Mellett, 34, a jazz musician whose family lives in McLean, died in the accident. Families of victims of the crash have been lobbying the federal government to change flight rules to require more training for pilots and to combat fatigue.

-- Associated Press and staff reports

Transportation writer Ashley Halsey III is at the Department of Transportation and will have more details later in the day.

By Michael Bolden  | September 10, 2010; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Airlines, Aviation  
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