On the eve of the first anniversary of the fatal crash of UPS Flight 1354, UPS pilots are calling for an end to the exemption of all-cargo airline operators from FAR Part 117, the new pilot rest and operating rules enacted by Congress.
On Aug. 14, 2013, UPS Flight 1354 crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, killing Capt. Cerea Beal, Jr. and First Officer Shanda Fanning.
“What we didn’t know then, but suspected, was the role fatigue played in this accident,” Capt. Robert Travis, president of the Independent Pilots Association (IPA), said. “Once the cockpit voice recorder transcripts were released, there was no doubt. Cerea and Shanda told us on the CVR that they were fatigued and wanted one level of safety in commercial aviation.”
Part 117, which became effective for passenger carriers on Jan. 4, is a major revision of pilot flight and duty limits and rest requirements. This new rule is designed to mitigate fatigue among commercial pilots. But all-cargo airlines are carved out of Part 117.
“This carve-out puts our nation’s entire aviation system at risk,” said Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “A tired pilot is a tired pilot, regardless of the plane he or she may be flying. By excluding cargo pilots from Part 117, the FAA is failing to adhere to its mission of making safety the first priority in aviation. If the FAA believes even one life lost in an accident is too many, the principle should also apply to cargo pilots.”
From the moment the FAA announced the cargo carve-out, the IPA has fought to reverse it. This includes suing the FAA.
“We had no choice but to lead this fight,” Travis said. “The crash of UPS Flight 1354 has intensified our efforts. Tragically, Capt. Beal said to our scheduling committee chairman just before the fatal flight, ‘These schedules over the past several years are killing me.’ We owe it to Cerea and Shanda, their families and every pilot, whether flying passengers or packages, to end this dangerous exclusion. As we mark this difficult anniversary, I call on the FAA to end the cargo carve-out and apply one level of safety to all commercial aviation.”