Segment 3 Of 3 Previous Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 PILOT FATIGUE
Wednesday, September 15, 1999
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. [chairman of the subcommittee] Presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. Good morning. I would like to call the subcommittee to order. Today's hearing is a continuation of the August 3rd hearing that we had on pilot fatigue. In our first hearing the subcommittee heard from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board and NASA. We also heard from the representatives of the Air Transport Association and the Airline Pilots Association.
The first hearing clearly shows that the aviation community has not yet reached a consensus on this important issue. Witnesses discussed their wide range of concerns with both the current and proposed regulations. We know that fatigue is a very difficult thing to measure or quantify. Its causes can certainly be mystifying. We have all had days when we feel tired or run down for no particular reason.
Fatigue is unpredictable. It can result from many factors, including rest, exertion, health, diet, sunlight, movement between time zones, age, fitness and possibly other factors. That is why fatigue is such a tough issue for the aviation industry.
Aviation is one of the most diverse and demanding sectors of our economy. The needs of the commercial passenger airlines are vastly different from those of an overnight cargo operator or charter airline. Rules on pilot fatigue must be flexible enough to meet all the demands of all the different and varying aspects of civil aviation. The current rules limiting pilot flight time are complicated and controversial. The FAA has been struggling to revise them since 1995 when it issued a notice of proposed rule making.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 I would once again urge caution as we continue to review these rules. Despite their complexity, the current pilot flight time limitations seem to have contributed to airline safety. We must not act in a way that would unknowingly erode safety or unnecessarily damage this vital industry.
Today we will hear from the National Air Transportation Association, the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association and the Independent Association of Continental Pilots.
I would certainly like to welcome all of the witnesses today and thank you very much for being with us. Your full written statements will be made a part of the record. And you can then testify as you see fit. And I look forward to your testimony. And I now turn to my good friend Mr. Lipinski the Ranking Member of the subcommittee.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your willingness to hold a second hearing on this very important issue of pilot fatigue. And I welcome the witnesses who are here today. I am sure their testimony will be informative and enlightening. As we have learned from our first hearing, pilot fatigue is a complex issue. But it is also a very important safety issue.
In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board has cited pilot fatigue as a factor in more than 20 aviation accidents. As a result, addressing the issue of pilot fatigue has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's most wanted safety improvement list for almost a decade.
We also learn that the Federal Aviation Administration after carefully studying the issue for more than 4 years will be ready in early 2000 to issue a new rule making on pilot flight and duty time. I think that it is definitely time for the FAA to more forward on this issue.I look forward to working with the FAA as they develop a final rule on pilot flight and duty time.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 I also look forward to hearing from our witnesses here today about the issues that they believe are vital for the FAA to address in its year 2000 rule making. Once again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much for this time, and I yield back the remainder of it.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. Lipinski has been concerned about this issue and was the one who originally requested that we hold these hearings and it is a very important subject to look into.
We are very honored to have our panel with us today and the panel consists of the Honorable James K. Coyne who is president of the National Air Transportation Association and who has been with us on many occasions and has been a really outstanding witness at several of our hearings, Captain David Wells who is the Safety Committee Chairman of the Federal Express Pilots Association on behalf of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association, Captain Rick Rubin who is with the Allied Pilots Association, and Captain Bill Borrelli who is with the Independent Association of Continental Pilots.
And we are very pleased to have each of you with us today. And as is traditional, or usual, we proceed with the witnesses in the order listed on the call of the hearing. And that means, Mr. Coyne, we will start with you.
You may proceed.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES K. COYNE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION; CAPT. DAVID WELLS, SAFETY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, FEDEX PILOTS ASSOCIATION, ON BEHALF OF THE COALITION OF AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION; CAPT. RICH RUBIN, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION; AND CAPT. BILL BORRELLI, INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION OF CONTINENTAL PILOTS
Mr. COYNE. Well, thank you very much Chairman Duncan, Congressman Lipinski, other Members of the committee, it is a great honor to be with you today to discuss this very important issue on behalf of the National Air Transportation Association and the on-demand 135 operators we represent.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 First, I should apologize, I suppose, for being the only one on the panel here without a uniform on. I feel like I showed up to a joint chiefs of staff and my suit was still in the dry cleaners. But it perhaps is appropriate that I am not in uniform because that illustrates, in part, the fundamental issue that I want to make before the committee. And that is that there is a bright line, a bright line of difference between the scheduled carriers and even the scheduled FedEx operators who really are like a scheduled carrier and those of us who represent unscheduled on-demand charter operators, air taxies, the people who provide the instantaneous emergency type of air transportation service that is so crucial in many regards to our Nation's well-being.
Perhaps today is an excellent day to give a clear illustration of that difference. As hurricane Floyd moves up the east coast of the United States, the scheduled carriers are cancelling more than 1,000 flights. And many of them now will have an unscheduled day off. And as they should. But instead across the country, across the northeast, across the central part of the country hundreds and hundreds of on-demand charter operators are receiving phone calls from insurance companies, from emergency providers, from politicians, from FEMA, and others. And each of them are now making plans, some time tomorrow to fly, hopefully be the first flight in to many of these damaged areas along our coast to provide needed safety and rescue support.
But like most of those today, they don't even know where they are going to be flying tomorrow. They don't know if the hurricane is going to go to Charleston or Willmington or Norfolk, whether their flight should take off at 8 a.m. Or noon or 6 p.m. So they are truly on-demand carriers, on demand, unscheduled Part 135 operators who have a completely different attitude toward the scheduling of their pilots.
In fact, the simple way to describe it is that they cannot schedule their pilots because their customers cannot schedule their needs. And it is not just for emergency services like responding to a natural disaster like a hurricane, but it is also meeting the more mundane emergencies like a major assembly line shutting down in Tennessee or Ohio and needing instantaneously some parts so those men and women can go back to work or so that people can provide services to businesses in far flung parts of the country. This is truly an entirely different business.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So I guess I am sort of happy that I don't have a uniform on because really I couldn't schedule that uniform to be here. So as we discuss the issue of safety, we have to recognize that whatever regulation the FAA and the NTSB or whomever propose and Congress recommends has to understand that if it tries to put the unscheduled world into the rule box of the scheduled world, it just won't work.
In fact, what would probably happen is literally hundreds of 135 operators on-demand with charter companies would decide to go out of business because they could not operate in this heavily scheduled world. I tell you there are two reasons that they couldn't operate. On the one hand they couldn't operate because it would be financially or economically impossible. Most of these charter operators are small businesses with perhaps a half a dozen airplanes. My plane, for example, the plane I have flown, and, as you know, I have been a pilot for 25 years, the plane I own is chartered through a 135 firm in Frederick, Maryland. And it operates a half a dozen airplanes with perhaps 7 or 8 pilots that they can rely upon. But if they had to meet the letter of the law that is being recommended by the airlines for their operations, they would have to have twice as many pilots because the concept that is being proposed is to put the same reserve duty concept that the airlines want on to the on-demand world which is just blatantly impossible.
So what would happen is that these companies, like the one that I participate in in Maryland would go out of business. But there is another reason that it is impossible for the on-demand industry to meet these rules and that is simply that there are not the pilots out there.
My good friends in the airline business, many of them started their careers as charter pilots in an air taxi. Maybe one of these gentlemen did. And it is almost a given today in the aviation business that the airlines are stealing or ''hiring'' I should use more kindly their pilots from our industry. And I guess it has always been that way and it always will be. But we face the greatest shortage of pilots in our Nation's history right now. In fact, Ed Stimson someone I know you know very well testified in the Senate just last week about how dire the shortage of pilots is today, especially the on-demand world.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So if we were forced to create a regulatory environment that doubled the number of pilots we needed, we couldn't find them even if we wanted to. So all I am asking you fine gentlemen to consider is whatever recommendations you produce or recommend, for the benefit of the commercial carriers as you may see fit, please recognize that the 135 world is a totally different world which deserves to have a completely separate consideration.
We live in a world where our pilots have to be ready to go on a moment's notice. Tomorrow, hundreds of them will be given that call on their beeper and they will be told that they are needed in Wilmington, North Carolina, and/or they are going to be needed in Norfolk or perhaps even in Tennessee as that hurricane moves over. We don't want to take away that flexibility, the safety that that provides to our citizens just because of a complicated vision of scheduling problems that exists in the airlines.
Finally, I do want to say, however, that NATA strongly supports the need to make safety and the issue of fatigue a primary issue for our industries, and it is a shared responsibility. It is a responsibility that the operators of the 135 companies, the charter companies, must share with their pilots. But there is no way that we can create a rule that abdicates some portion of that responsibility to be borne by the pilots themselves.
And we strongly support the right of our pilots. If they feel that they are too tired to fly, too tired to take off, to be given every privilege to allow themselves to call themselves off, to say it is just not safe for me to fly today. And that is, of course, part of the existing law today. And we hope that that will continue to be a part of the regulatory environment within which we operate.
But, again, I want to thank you for giving me the time to make these points to the fine gentlemen of the committee and hope that as I recognize the differences between the airlines and ourselves that my colleagues from the airline industry will also recognize the fundamental differences that exist in the on-demand world as well.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Coyne, for very interesting testimony.
Mr. WELLS. Thank you, Chairman Duncan and Members of the Aviation Subcommittee for the opportunity to address the problem of one level of safety concerning pilot fatigue. I am Captain David Wells, chairman of the FedEx Pilots Association Safety Committee. I was asked to speak on behalf of the 22,000 members of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association or CAPA. With me today are some of my colleagues from CAPA. They helped on this testimony.
Since 1992, we have worked on the fatigue issue within the aviation rulemaking committee, ARAC process. The results of that process have produced several findings. The present regulation and proposed change are wholly inadequate in that they do not address the need to reduce the amount of duty when flying during the hours of circadian low, a period of time between midnight and 6 a.m.
FedEx pilots are authorities when it comes to discussions concerning effects of being on duty during this time of night. Whether it be the cumulative effects of fatigue, working when your body knows it should be asleep, or trying to sleep when your body knows or wants to be awake. In fact NASA studied FedEx pilots during fatigue research which began in 1987 and published its findings in February 1996. The report's conclusions verified what every CAPA pilot already knew. Storing sleep is impossible. Sleep debt is cumulative. Sleeping on demand is extremely unlikely.
Yet even with this report, other NASA reports on long haul, short haul, the Battelle report, and two failed ARACs, the FAA has failed to enforce regulations that would help ensure pilots are rested. The present regulation only requires that a rest period be scheduled during the previous 24 hours. It does not require this scheduled rest actually be received. As a matter of fact, regulations allow domestic and flag regulated pilots to have their duty period extended indefinitely due to the circumstances beyond the control of the airline.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 In August during the previous fatigue hearing, the FAA misquoted its own testimony when Peggy Gilligan stated that the FARs have a 2-hour extension to duty. Only supplemental pilots have a duty limit. What she quoted from was the FAA's notice of proposed rulemaking upon which we are waiting for the FAA to act.
Reserve pilots who are less protected by contract are on 24-hour call out. These pilots are unsure when they will be called for duty thus are unsure when to sleep. FARs need to be expanded and enforced to ensure that all pilots receive rest and that duty times have an end. Programs like land and hold short, reduce vertical separation, and surface movement guidance and control system increase the number of aircraft flying. However, this increase requires greater concentration and vigilance which results in a more fatigued pilot as he approaches the end of his day.
Certainly there are dangers in aviation and federal rules will not prevent birds from flying to the engines or dangerous wind shears from occurring. Federal regulations can, however, assure that the pilot at the controls is well trained and adequately rested to deal with the unforeseen. The present regulations permit airlines operating from identical airports at the same time using different regulations.
Recently I flew an MD 11 from Memphis to Seattle. While awaiting take off, a Northwest 757 departed also going to Seattle. Both flights had equally qualified pilots requiring the same medical and training standards. Both were modern computerized aircraft. Both flights flew on the same airways and operated into and out of the same airports. Differences between the flights, Northwest had passengers, cargo on FedEx. FedEx transports dangerous goods, hazardous material, restricted to cargo-only aircraft. FedEx as a supplemental airline, does not have flight dispatchers as required for domestic or flag airlines.
The maximum duty time for a domestic pilot is 30 hours and 7 days while a supplemental pilot can fly up to 48 hours in the same period or 60 percent more. Supplemental airlines are divided into two distinct operations, that being scheduled and non-scheduled. An agreement for duty time and notification was reached between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and NACA during the ARAC on reserve rest. This was forwarded to the FAA.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 In conclusion, it is the opinion and hard experience of the CAPA pilots that aviation safety is not adequately served by distinctions between domestic flag and supplemental carriers currently in the FARs. CAPA requests the FAA be directed to revisit the issue of flight- and duty-time limitations.
What is needed are new FARs that one, keep the present limit on flying to 8 hours; two, establish a duty, a reasonable duty limit reduced when flying during circadian low; three, establish a 10-hour rest period, this will provide a real 8-hour rest opportunity; and four, eliminate the category supplemental airline except where it applies to ad hoc Charter Airlines since this is their lifeblood.
Thank you for your time and efforts to improve air safety.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much Captain Wells.
Mr. RUBIN. Good morning, Chairman Duncan and Congressman Lipinski and other distinguished members of the Aviation Subcommittee. On behalf of the Allied Pilots Association and the 9,500 pilots of American Airlines it represents I would like to thank you for inviting us back to testify about the important safety issue of pilot fatigue.
Fatigue can impair anybody, can be our worst enemy by impairing our judgment and decision-making ability often during the critical approach and landing phase at the end of a long day or fight of flying. NASA has testified about the numerous pilot reports that document fatigue. ALPA submitted hundreds of similar reports to the FAA in 1995. These industry-wide reports provide hard evidence that current regulations are inadequate and that pilot fatigue is a very real theft to the safety of air transportation.
To alleviate fatigue, we proposed duty-period and flight-time limitations that are right in line with NASA's recommendations and scientific research. Scheduled duty time for domestic operations should be limited to 12 hours and APA believes the existing 8-hour flight-time limitations must be retained. We also support NASA's recommendation that flight and duty time should be further reduced if it falls within the late night to predawn hours.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 We agree with the FAA's proposed 10-hour rest period but to be truly effective, the rest period must not be interrupted and should never be reduced. The FAA testified during the last hearing, quote, NASA studies suggest that if a pilot can get the 8-hour sleep opportunity they are capable of performing at 10 hours of flight time, end quote. To be clear, NASA referred to 10 hours in the context of a maximum flight-duty period, not in reference to flight time.
NASA's definition of a flight-duty period includes preflight duties, multiple periods of flight time, time on the ground between flights, and post-flight duties. On the other hand, the FAA's definition of flight time is limited to the time an aircraft is pushed back from the gate until the time it arrives at the gate of the destination airport. We believe the reason the FAA proposed increasing flight time from 8 to 10 hours was revealed in the cost benefit section of NPRM 95-18 that reads in part, quote, this provision should create the potential for substantial cost savings for both Part 121 and 135 operators, end quote.
Increasing flight time to 10 hours would exacerbate the existing pilot fatigue problem. Currently flights longer than 8 hours require additional relief crew members to provide in flight rest breaks for the operative crew. Raising the flight time limit to 10 hours would open the door to two pilot operations without a relief pilot on flights between the U.S. And most destinations to Europe and South America. A substantial number of these flights operate throughout the night when exposure to fatigue is greatest.
Concerning the FAA's recent decision to begin enforcing its existing reserve rest regulations, those rules do not require international reserve pilots to receive prescheduled rest. Under present regulations, only pilots flying over domestic routes are required to receive mandatory rest periods. It is essential for new regulations to mandate rest periods for reserve pilots who fly international and domestic trips.
During the last hearing, the Air Transport Association testified that reports about fatigue problems are, quote absurd, end quote. Whenever airlines hear about pilot fatigue, they simply deny the problem exists and say that scientific data is inconclusive about fatigue and pilot performance. To me it sounds a lot like what the tobacco industry used to say about the relationship between smoking and cancer.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 The ATA also testified, quote, there has never been a scheduled commercial airline accident attributed to pilot fatigue, not one, not ever, end quote. The NTSB director of research and engineering, Dr. Vernon Ellingstaad, testified at the previous hearing that pilot fatigue was found to be a principle cause of crashes at both Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 1993, and Kansas City, Missouri, in 1959.
The NTSB has also cited pilot fatigue as a contributing factor in approximately 20 accidents or incidents.
Concerning the industry's renewed interest in cockpit napping, it is far from a magic bullet to solve the problem of pilot fatigue. Modern airliners have been certified for operation by two alert and fully capable pilots. We simply do not understand how allowing one of the 2 pilots to sleep at the controls is consistent with the public's interest in safe air transportation.
We agree with the NTSB's position on this issue as documented in its response to NPRM 95-18, and I quote, The Safety Board similarly believes that countermeasures such as control napping no matter how effective as a temporary mitigation of the effects of fatigue have not been developed to be used and should not be used as a substitute for rules designed to reduce the likelihood that pilots will be fatigued from their flight and duty activities, end quote.
Since 1992, we have been stonewalled and led around in circles by the ATA concerning the issue of pilot fatigue. We have participated in two ARACs and NPRM that is now 5 years old without any rulemaking action by the FAA.
On the reserve rest issue, it took the bright light of congressional oversight, the threat of FAA enforcement, and public scrutiny to force compliance with regulations that have been on the books for 14 years.
In the interest of safety, we simply cannot afford to have history repeat itself. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for action. Please keep the FAA's feet to the fire for regulatory action that will remove the threat of pilot fatigue from our cockpits.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Thank you very much, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Captain Rubin.
Mr. BORRELLI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Lipinski and good morning to everyone. I am Captain Bill Borrelli, and I am president of the Independent Association of Continental Pilots, the labor union representing 6,000 men and women who fly for Continental Airlines and Continental Express Airlines.
I am here today to speak about one of the oldest and most important issues facing our profession and the flying public, pilot fatigue. The Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 was passed because airlines were pushing early-day pilots to fly unsafe conditions. While regulations covering duty flight and rest periods have been modified since that time, they have not been updated in over 15 years. And our airline employers have never stopped pushing the limit of our endurance or the limit of the regulations.
Since passage of the act, significant research on detrimental effects of fatigue have been conducted by the FAA, the NTSB, and NASA. And it has been documented that over 20 percent of flight crew errors are related to fatigue. These studies have clearly established the relationship between long duty periods and fatigue and between fatigue and deterioration of performance. Yet in spite of overwhelming evidence, the FAA has been reluctant to enforce current regulations or even update them.
The airlines continue to cite a lack of pilot complaints as evidence that no problem exists. They ignore the chilling effect of disciplinary letters and pilot personnel files such as one in which a fatigued pilot who refused to fly was told he was derelict in his duties as a fly crew member and that his quote performance in this incident was very unprofessional, unquote.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 In the same letter, the airline stated, and I quote, this policy has been in effect for many years and has been deemed an acceptable policy by the FAA, unquote.
When confronted with the threat of disciplinary action and lack of FAA enforcement, what avenue of action is left to the pilot? Airlines continue to use the legality of current scheduling practices as accepted by the FAA to put schedule competition and profit ahead of common sense and even safety. Their attitude was dramatically pointed out to the pilot in the case I just cited when his disciplinary stated, and again I quote, Your inability to complete your flight assignment cost an enormous amount of revenue and dealt a severe blow to our effort to improve our image, end quote.
Since the August 4th hearing of this subcommittee where we submitted comments, we have received additional reports from pilots being subjected to reserve pilot scheduling practices which force a pilot to be on stand-by in the morning, given a legal rest period during the midday hours, then given an 11-hour all-night duty period landing 6:30 a.m. The next morning.
Our pilots have seen the initiation of new international routes which are being paper-flight planned in a manner that allows management to circumvent federal aviation regulations which would otherwise require additional pilots. To date, almost 95 percent of the actual flights have exceeded the FAR flight time regulations, some by as much as an hour and 15 minutes. Rather than provide realistic flight schedules and FAR-required increased crew complements, management's response has been to encourage pilots to land in tailwind conditions, opposite to other airlines and to operate at lower altitudes and higher cruise speeds. In this manner they hope to meet FAR requirements at least 50 percent of the time and be in FAA compliance.
Additional concerns are being raised by the increase in passengers with tickets issued by U.S. Carriers from U.S. Departure points flying on aircraft actually being operated by international code-sharing partners. Currently, there is no FAR requirement that foreign carriers meet the same standards as U.S. Operators and pilots flying for code-sharing partners lack the protection of duty, flight, and rest regulations. They are routinely given 4 to 6 hour rest breaks while operating demanding flight schedules to high elevation airports in mountainous terrain.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 We believe the time has come for the FAA to exercise its statutory oversight obligations to make sure airlines are scheduling pilots in accordance with current regulations. We also believe the time has come to use the extensive research now available to set new global standards for duty, flight and rest requirements. These regulations should require safe, not market driven, scheduling of flight times. They should apply to all reassignments which a pilot might encounter, require uninterrupted rest periods which start after hotel arrival, and set maximum limits regardless of the reason for flight delays or the number of pilots on board. These regulations should be the minimum standard applied to all international carriers operating in the United States.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much to each of the witnesses, and I want to go first on our side to Mr. Isakson who was here first.
Mr. ISAKSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask Captain Wells, I need to get educated a little bit, if you can. Supplemental, which FedEx is, that is also I guess what UPS would be, where they would fall, in the supplemental category; is that right?
Mr. WELLS. UPS is not a supplemental carrier. Airborne and FedEx are supplemental carriers. The reason they are supplemental carriers, FedEx's case 27 years ago when they were awarded their operating certificate, they did not fit into the box for a domestic passenger airline. The only thing they fit into at that point was supplemental carrier. So we have a supplemental certificate. We have been operating under that for 27 years.
Newer cargo airlines coming on board UPS, DHL and the like, are domestic or flag operating certificates.
Mr. ISAKSON. So not all like carriers are under the same category; is that correct?
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. WELLS. That is correct. Yes, sir.
Mr. ISAKSON. Same question, Mr. Coyne might need to answer. 135, Mr. Coyne, that is your category.
Mr. COYNE. Yeah. The Part 135 or the on-demand air taxi or charter operators, who are typically flying much smaller aircraft; and the aircraft are waiting there for the customer to call, just as I was mentioning earlier as they will be calling to go down to the hurricane site tomorrow, these are people who are on-demand. They operate in a very, very different set of regulations than scheduled carriers. We think the duty-time rules should be very different as well.
Mr. ISAKSON. The kind of pilots politicians use.
Mr. COYNE. Exactly right.
Mr. ISAKSON. Here is my question. Captain Wells, toward the end of your testimony, did I correctly understand you to say that you thought domestic and supplemental should be uniform but you should have an exception for 135; is that what I heard you say?
Mr. WELLS. For the airlines whether they would be 121 or 135 that are strictly for charters, on-call type operations, during the last ARAC, there was an agreement reached between the teamsters and NACAnot NATA, NACAof a sliding scale which I don't remember the exact numbers and I can get them to you, but with 4 hours notification the pilots might be able to work for 6, 6 hours something in that range.
Mr. ISAKSON. But you did say make it uniform for supplemental and domestic and have exceptions for things like 135; is that what I heard you say?
Mr. WELLS. Or take the present operators that are supplementals and reaward their certificates as domestic and flag carriers.
Mr. ISAKSON. Captain Rubin, really two questions to ask you. One may seem to be irrelevant, but I am just interested after listening to you, whatlet's just say a pilot has conformed, as we would hope in all cases an airline pilot, they and the airline would conform with the existing rules as they are now, what authority or what ability does a pilot have if a pilot does not feel capable for circumstances that may have been happening during their rest period of flying? Does a pilot have the capabilities to report that and any ability to not fly if they don't feel they are capable?
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. RUBIN. Well, the pilot not only has the capability but he has the responsibility. But the current FAR, 91-13 that requires a pilot to withhold services during any type of impairment, including fatigue.
Mr. ISAKSON. Do you have any problem where that authority that a pilot has has ever been used against them to their detriment by their employer?
Mr. RUBIN. Yes, I do. I do. I know of particular cases where pilots that in some casesin one case diverted from a trip from Kennedy to London, after experiencing an in-flight emergency, diverted to Gander. And after the pilot landed, realized that his time of awakening, his time that he would be up to complete that flight after a lengthy delay and the diversion at Gander Airport would have required him to remain awake up to 27 hours. When he refused to fly, he was literately threatened with being terminated. Subsequently he refused to fly and was suspended upon a hearing.
I prepared the documentation for the hearing as far as the scientific evidence to support his proper call to refuse to fly. And subsequently the pilot was exonerated. But obviously, the impact of being threatened with job action under those circumstances should be examined.
Mr. ISAKSON. Well, I certainly haven't drawn any conclusions in all this yet, but it would be interesting to me on that very point to know something. And I don't think you can answerI know you can't answer it now, but if you could supply the committee with it some time if you or your organization have the information if a pilot does, in fact, which they have, I think, the authority to say, Look, I am not capable of flying even though I am rested for 8 hours, my mother died or my child was hurt; I did this and did that because just being away for 8 hours or 10 hours doesn't mean you rested in a normal life.
Now, I think a pilot should absolutely have that authority. I don't think that authority, that ability should be abused. My question is this: It would be interesting for me to know if there is any documentation in your organization or Captain Rubin's organization as to how frequent there are documented cases where a pilot has exercised that authority, said, I don't think I can fly, and there has been some reported or documented retribution. Because that would be interesting for me to know. Because I consider pilots to be like physicians, highly professional. They have people's lives in their hands, albeit a different profession, and they are the only people that really know what kind of shape they are in at a different point in time. So the magnitudeand again I am not drawing any conclusions whatsoever because I have got a lot to learn, but it would be interesting for me to know if pilots have a problem of a significant proportion or if these problems have been relatively infrequent with regard to when they have said, Hey, I can't fly, there has been some form of eitherI don't know how you do it whether it is writing letters and putting them in the file or whatever the case might be. I know you mentioned one case, but we are talking about thousands of hours and thousands of pilots.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 I would like Mr. Chairman, if it is okay to ask them to submit to the committee any documentation on that. That would be an important thing for me to know in terms of how the integrity of that ability really on a day-to-day basis in the real world operates or not. And that is the only other question I have.
Mr. RUBIN. Congressman, can I add to your question there in response? I understand that before the Senate or the House is a bill or part of an appropriations bill that has some language relative to whistle-blower protection of transportation workers. I urge the committee to really consider that because it touches upon the very essence of your questioning.
One of the most difficult things that we have found is for pilots to come forward and document their experiences of what we refer to as pilot pushing. I think this is something that will be a considerable benefit to the safety of the flying public if we provide some kind of a mechanism whereby transportation workers are protected to inform an authority for an investigation and for severe penalties imposed on management, chief pilots, whatever, that have the responsibility for administering the safety of their respective operations.
Mr. ISAKSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you. Actually, Captain, that whistle-blower protection was put in on the House side and is in our bill that is over waiting on the Senate at this time.
Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you again for your interest in having this hearing. I think it is timely, and all of us that use the services of these good people appreciate what is going on. I think I understand the question and why we are having this. I am curious about something, maybe it is in the materials that staff has provided us, but almost every time I get on the airplane to go somewhere, which we all do about twice a week, I notice that pilots are in the passenger end of the airplane going somewhere. I assume they are going somewhere to start their flying time.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 And I would wonder if what is the norm of that, if they are stationed or living near Washington, D.C. And they fly out of Chicago or Kansas City or Denver or wherever, assume those hours are not flight-time hours but are hours that somehow fit into this equation.
I certainly know just from being a passenger. We put in a lot of long hours here at what we do, but my worst days are those travel days. And maybe it is just because I am getting old; I don't know. But just the fact of getting from the farm to Des Moines to Chicago to here and to here and so on and not doing much, but it is the most fatiguing days. And in another life, I used to do things that caused a lot of hours in the cockpit. I know that it matters.
So those people I see in uniform are going from riding in the passenger compartment with me, tell me howsomebody tell me how that ties into the whole equation. Anybody. All of you.
Mr. RUBIN. Well, as I testified before, there has been some confusion as far as flight time and the flight-duty period. A flight-duty period is what we are looking at actually adding to the books. There is nocurrently there is no limitation on the amount of duty other than the fact that current regulations require under the look-back provision a minimum of 8 hours of rest within 24 hours which means that for domestic pilots flying, they can be scheduled for 16 hours and still satisfy that constraint, although there is not a specific 16-hour duty period limitation.
But on top of that, there is no ceiling on the amount of operational delays that can be incurred. So a pilot that starts off the day and may fly from here to Chicago and then is delayed for weather, will sit around and take off again to Los Angeles and literally could be flying in excess of 16 hours in one duty period on multiple hops. Flight time is limited to 8 hours within that period.
Mr. LIPINSKI. If the gentlemen would yield please just for a moment.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 The question really that Congressman Boswell asked, as far as I heard any way, you have an individual that lives in the Virginia area and he flies out of Washington area or Dulles to Chicago. That flight is simply getting him to Chicago where he is going to then start his duty day. I think Congressman Boswell wanted to know if the time from Washington National or Dulles to Chicago is factored in. Is that correct, Congressman?
Mr. BORRELLI. Let me see if I can clarify it a little bit. There are probably two scenarios where pilots are in the passenger cabin in uniform. One is dead-heading on company time, what we call dead-heading. So that means if my flight on company time departs Newark and dead-heads me as a passenger to Washington National so that I can operate a flight to Houston, I would be dead-heading.
I also commute. I live in New Hampshire, and I commute from Boston to Newark which is my home base. So when I report to work, you might see me in the back of the aircraft in uniform commuting to work. The time commuting to work does not count towards my duty day. The time dead-heading to my flight in Washington does count towards my duty day. And that probably accounts for most of the pilots you see in the back of the aircraft.
Mr. COYNE. If I could make a comment too on this issue. It is a very important one from a fatigue point of view, there are many pilots on the scheduled side who have long commutes which sometimes get delayed. Those flights get delayed or you know it may add several hours to their day. But I don't want to get into the debate about whether that should be regulated in some way, but I do want to point out that in the 135 world, the overwhelming percentage, probably 99 percent of on-demand pilots live where they fly from. And so when they get up in the morning it is a 15-minute drive to the airport, and they are in the airplane.
So once again, the issue is we need very different rules for 135 than from 121. Because, in fact, there are many 121 pilots, I know some of them personally, who live in the Virgin Islands and fly out of Miami. I know others that live in Montana and fly out of Atlanta. So you have these long commutes sometimes which do contribute to fatigue obviously. It is not a problem though on the 135 side.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Boswell.
I believe Dr. Cooksey came in earlier.
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this continuation of the earlier hearings. Two or three questions. Number one, there are three of us who are pilots and probably make the air a little bit more dangerous when we fly.
Mr. BASS. Speak for yourself.
Mr. COOKSEY. But anyway, it should be recorded that as you all know that when you take off at the beginning of a flight, you are really testing the flying machine. And when you land you are testing the skill of the pilot. But you are also testing the fatigue factor and so forth. And that is basic to this whole decision. I share your opinion that 135 operations need a little bit more flexibility, and I think they can have more flexibility because sometimes they are flying passengers but often they are flying cargo or whatever and do a good job.
There are some good 135 operators, and there are probably some that are not quite as good. The question I would like to ask of all of you, I assume all of you build up your time some time or another with a 135 operation as a lot of young pilots do. Have any of you everas a 135 operator or pilot employee or as a pilot with an airline, ever gone to the person that runs the 135 operation or the airline and said, I am too tired to fly. And if so, was your request honored? Yes or no? Yes or no?
Mr. COYNE. I have never been a commercial pilot. I have almost 4,000 hours flying, probably like you and Mr. Bass, but that was never as a commercial pilot. I have flown many times in very long hours while I was a Member of Congress flying back to my district and other hearings and so forth. But the experience that I can answer your question is in the 135 community, the 135 community's pilots, I think, first and foremost are professionals. And that is an important distinction between amateur pilots like you and me, and the professional pilots who are working in this 135 world. And they take very seriously, very seriously their responsibility to be healthy when they fly.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 And fatigue is part of health. It is not a separate issue. I mean, there are a lot of other things, a person could have an ear infection and not want to fly. A person could have a serious bowel infection and not want to fly. I mean there is a lot of situations where a pilot would not want to fly. And clearly, fatigue is one of them which they do regularly provide information that they are too tired.
And to my knowledge our members, I have not heard of a single case where there has been retribution to the 135 community reported by any of our members or any of the employees of our members.
I should also point out that the NTSB has not reported a single case where fatigue was identified as the primary cause of an accident, of a 135 accident. And so we arewe take our profession very, very seriously. And since we are unscheduled and on demand, our people are perhaps more conscious of the fatigue issue and perhaps more prepared for it than those in the scheduled world who might find that when the schedule turns inside out, they are not as prepared for it because they expect the schedule to be honored.
Mr. COOKSEY. Captain Borrelli, what about you? Have you ever been in that situation as a 135 pilot or as a.
Mr. BORRELLI. At my airline carrier, Continental Airlines, I have refused an assignment due to fatigue. On two instances that I can recall, I was not challenged, I was not questioned. I do know of pilots who have been challenged.
I suppose I don't mind the airline or management questioning a pilot that calls in fatigue, to understand the circumstances that led to that decision. I do have a problem if that pilot is challenged by exercising good judgment and his captain's authority. I think that is the one safety net that we have to all be cognizant of and that is captain's authority. That is our last line of defense, if you will. We are not robots. We do get tired. And at some point, good judgment has to take over.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 When we exerciseand it is not like we do that daily. But there are circumstances where the crew has to make a judgment call with respect to fatigue. And I would hope that none of our managements would ever challenge us when we exercise that right.
Mr. COOKSEY. Captain Rubin, have you ever been a 135 pilot?
Mr. RUBIN. Yes.
Mr. COOKSEY. Have you ever requested not to fly because of fatigue and has it been honored or not honored?
Mr. RUBIN. Yes, I have. And there really is a shade of gray in here. Because being challenged is typicallythe words ''to be challenged'' really needs to be examined a little further. Typically the crew schedulers are the ones that schedule pilots. So when you get a call to fly as a reserve pilot, for example, your contact with the airline is with the crew scheduler whose purpose is nothing more than to be sure that the airline is manned. They are under the gun to move pilots and airplanes. When there is a shortage, there is a tremendous pressure placed on them to see that the airline continues to operate.
Depending upon the circumstances and the times is the tenor of that conversation. I have received many, many reports as the person with responsibility for flight and duty problems at our airline. In fact, I have a file full of them with reports from contact with crew schedulers that have been overzealous in pushing pilots to accepting assignments, challenging them as far as their responsibility to be rested and telling them if they don't accept the flight, they will have to cancel the flight.
In some cases where a pilot has refused to fly and went fatigue, the crew scheduler says well, I want you to go down and tell the passengers why you are not taking them from Y to Z. So there really is a range of attitudes among the particular crew schedulers at any particular time depending upon the need to maintain that schedule reliability. But it is a problem. There is no question about it.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. COOKSEY. That is a good response. Captain Wells.
Mr. WELLS. I think when looking at 135 operators you will notice that a lot of them are younger and in their 20's as opposed to being in their 40's and 50's. When I was a 135 operator, I was trying to build time. And I didn't knowingly exceed limits. I am sure I pushed myself to the limit to build time. As far as refusing a flight, I don't recall of any time that I did refuse a flight for being fatigued.
Mr. COOKSEY. I feel this is a fundamental question, and you have given good answers. When accidents occur on takeoff it is the machine and when they occur on the landing it is the pilot. It is pilot error most of the time and fatigue can be a factor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Dr. Cooksey. Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know it is a difficult subject to examine because I have met with many pilots and representatives of pilots in my office and had them tell me of instances as mentioned by Captain Rubin where pilots have actually been sanctioned for using their best judgment in terms of whether or not they are capable of flying. Yet, the Air Transport Association was in to tell us this never happened, never could happen, never would happen, and that every airline is totally responsive to the captain and would never ever question their judgment.
So I went and examined the docket from the last time the FAA proposed to change flight duty time in 1996. The docket included comments from the Airline Pilots Association. I will use them because none of you represent that group, and perhaps the other thing I find here is that sometimes the representatives of the groups are a little bit reluctant to speak too forthrightly on things their own members have told them because they think it reflects on their member airlines.
So since ALPA is not here, I could use their docket. I just want to seeif I listen to the ATA I would be told they hired a creative writer, and this is all fiction. But there is over 100 anecdotal incidents which seem to me to have great verity to it, but ATA would say none of these things could ever happen.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Number 14 talks about how the first officer goes to the bathroom, asks the pilot if he wants anything, he says he wants water, comes back, sets the water down next to the captain, the captain is sitting there staring straight ahead. So he decides to conduct an experiment so he just sits down, and listens to ATC and waits to see how long before the pilot woke up. He said it took 2 to 3 minutes. The pilot said he never knew he fell asleep.
Another one where a pilot woke up having a nightmare and tried basically to reach for the emergency switch to shut down the engine and the fire extinguishers because he was dreaming that the engine was on fire and had to be restrained by the first officer.
And a number of other instances. Is this credible, or do they really go out and hire a creative writer? The ATA says this could never happen, never would happen. People don't fall asleep. These things are all made up. So I would like any of you to respond to that. They say this is a perfect world. In fact, people could work longer hours and have shorter rest periods, and they can't understand why somebody who leaves the airport has 8 hours to rest and comes back to the airport 8 hours later didn't get 8 hours sleep.
Mr. COYNE. I guess I am the closest thing to ATA here. Maybe I ought to take a first stab.
Mr. DEFAZIO. I don't know if you want to step into their shoes.
Mr. COYNE. I certainly don't, but I do want to point out that there are about 20 million flights in the United States each year. And if they said never, I can't believe they would say never. The fact of the matter is when you have 20 million flights, virtually any human flaw will one way or another be identified.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Right. But I guess the question isI am going to be a little bit short because I don't have a lot of timeis this more common than the public is being led to believe and are the airlines actually discouraging the reporting of sufficient instances and leaning on the pilots. I hear disturbing reports that, in fact, they are. And, in fact, I had the Regional Airline Association tell me that in a hearing once. They said, 'Well, Congressman, if you were over in Bend and you wanted to get back to Eugene, and the pilot said he wouldn't fly because he was too tired, wouldn't you be upset that you couldn't fly over the mountains because the pilot said he was too tired?' I said, 'No, I would be happy to take the bus with him.'
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. DEFAZIO. We are talking 135.
Mr. COYNE. I think that some of the airline community has somewhat different situation than charter again on this issue. Perhaps I should turn it over to the airline folks. But certainly the charter community does not have that many documented experiences that I am aware of people actually dozing off in the cockpit. Maybe it is because our legs are shorter, I mean the lengths of most of our flights are shorter. It is very different when you have a 1-hour flight and 7-hour flight. Most all of that 7 hours is just continuation of very little to do for the pilot. Also, as this gentlemen pointed out, our pilots are perhaps 10 or 15 years younger, and it is perhaps not as much of a problem for them.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Right. Would any of the other pilots like to comment Captain Wells. I don't know if you were here for the last hearing, but I got a little abrupt with the ATA. They basically deny there is any problem, absolutely unequivocally deny there is any problem. I am disturbed to see that perhaps there is a problem.
Mr. WELLS. I think there is a problem. I also believe that some of the airlinesI wouldn't say all the airlines I wouldn't be specific on which ones, discourage pilots from reporting. NASA has a system where pilots can report incidences whether it be a real incident or they just felt they were extremely tired. We are trying to encourage pilots to do that. And I would probably say like anything where you ask somebody only 1 percent or 10 percent of the people speak up to let you know what is really happening.
The airlines schedule for the maximum. Obviously money is the bottom line. And they schedule the pilots up to the maximum. And pilots get extremely fatigued. Just to cover one other quick point on transatlantic flights, usually the crew has a 24-hour layover. Now that is the worst possible layover for a pilot as far as I am concerned, and a lot of people will concur with me. Because in that 24 hours you not only have to sleep and do all your other activities but you have to reverse your body clock 12 hours because now instead of going back to sleep or finishing a 9 to 5 job at 5:00 you come off duty, now it is 5:00 in the evening and you are going back to work. So you have to completely reverse your body.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 And in the notice of proposed rulemaking 95-18, they wanted to extend the hours from 8 to 10 hours of fly time per day. And on a lot of the transatlantic flights, that would have eliminated the relief pilots. So we would have had two pilots coming back across the Atlantic after trying to switch their clock 12 hours, and it is just looking for problems.
Mr. DEFAZIO. The 8 to 10 hours, what do you think that is based on? A little bit to do with how long it takes to get there and whether or not you have to have a relief pilot?
Mr. WELLS. Correct. Correct.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Not on seeing there is something scientifically or pilots saying I can fly another 2 hours; that would greatly improve my performance.
Mr. WELLS. But not only the additional 2 hours. They could also, with the additional 2 hours, limit it to only two pilots instead of having a relief pilot. But, also, you land in London and you stay at the airport for 2 hours and then you continue another flight for the additional 2 hours, to make it 10 hours to Frankfurt. Tag-on flights. Extremely unsafe.
Mr. DEFAZIO. There are a number of anecdotal incidents there. If I could ask one more question, I know my time has expired, Mr. Chairman.
Could someone address the case where the pilot fell asleep, where both crew members fell asleep. What would happenand I think Mr. Rubin particularly raised this issue about certification of planes, two pilots absolutely awake and alert at all times. What would happen in, say, a rapid decompression situation if the pilot, or maybe, God forbid, both are asleep? What is the probability that they are going to wake up?
Mr. RUBIN. Well, the time of useful consciousness, for let us say an explosive decompression, is seconds. And a pilot that was asleep during that process would be very subject to death, and the aircraft would very likely be lost because that oxygen mask has to be put on immediately or a pilot would lose consciousness.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 There is another factor, too. There is what we call sleep inertia; that anybody waking up from a deep sleep, especially during one where the back side of the clock is referred to, it takes a while for a person to function, to begin with. So if you put those two problems together, the sleep inertia, where it takes time to spool yourself up, and a catastrophic event like thatand I would say that the likelihood of survival for the passengers and crew of that aircraft would be very, very slim.
Mr. DEFAZIO. And if we eliminate reserve or relief pilots and go to a 10-hour schedule, do you think there would be a higher likelihood of this sort of event?
Mr. RUBIN. Well, we lose the relief that we presently enjoy with our flights that are under 8 hours. All we are doing is exacerbating that problem, especially during the back side of the clock hours, when most of these international flights occur.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Captain. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio. Mr. Bass.
Mr. BASS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a general question. I would appreciate a brief comment from each of you.
The issue of pilot fatigue obviously is not new. It has been around since flying has been around, commercial flying perhaps. I guess the issue is, has the problem of pilot fatigue worsened recently, or as of late or over some period of time, and if so, why?
If you can start at one end and go to the other and do it fairly quickly.
Mr. COYNE. I have seen no evidence it has worsened. You could make the argument, I suppose, that in some of the very, very long international flights, which, obviously, have increased in numbers, since that portion of the international flights probably have the greatest exposure to fatigue, that since the growth of that has come up in the longer-legged planes. But certainly in the United States, where most of your flights are much shorter, and going back certainly to the time in the 1930s, when flights were of longer duration, typically the legs were longer then, since the planes were slower, I do not think you can make an argument the situation has gotten worse today.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Clearly, the planes have gotten much safer as well. Automated computer systems in the planes have made the planes safer in the event of emergency incapacitation of the pilot. But, at the same time, those automated systems have tended to create a situation where some pilots feel that they cannot be as vigilant because the computer is doing the work.
I guess you have all heard the famous joke about the airplane of the future with the dog, the computer, and the pilot. We do need to keep the pilot awake even as these computers get more and more sophisticated. And my guess is that we will, in fact, develop technology in the computerized cockpit that will create incentives for the pilots to be more regularly vigilant as well.
Mr. WELLS. I think it has gotten worse, and the reason is there is much more flying than there has been in the past, much longer legs. Used to be, in the 1950s, maybe 10 percent of the population had ever flown. Now we are probably reaching 99 percent of the population flying. It used to be, as I remember as a kid, everybody got dressed up. Now people are in shorts and T-shirts, and it has become a normal way of transportation for everybody. It has greatly expanded. The demands on the pilot to fly more is increasing.
Mr. RUBIN. I agree with Captain Wells. In addition, I think that deregulation has put a great emphasis on on-time performance and the competitive nature of the marketplace right now. It is pushing airlines to get out quicker and quicker.
And when pilots report fatigue, there is a greater need to get somebody in that cockpit right away and a greater amount of emphasis on getting somebody right away, whereas before there was a little more time to find somebody. That is especially true now with our hub-and-spoke type connections, where those connections are so small and so limited in time.There is a great urgency to turn flights around, for pilots to go from one place to another.
I really do think that it has increased, along with, of course, the longer flights. The technology has surpassed the regulations that are archaic. The regulations were designed back in 1938, and essentially the international regulations have not changed at all. The last change to the flight time and duty regulations for domestic pilots occurred in 1985. And by and large that regulation was complied with, with the reserve pilots, which is, I think, the weakest link in this pilot fatigue problem, and that is a pilot, if he is not given that rest before he reports, can result in an extensive amount of time of awake while he is in a cockpit.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 And so a combination of those factors, I think, has resulted in an accelerating problem with pilot fatigue.
Mr. BORRELLI. Probably come as no surprise to you that I will agree with my colleagues.
Principally because of the deregulated environment, the schedules are driven by competition, on-time performance. I can underscore that by telling you that at Continental Airlines we have an on-time bonus check for operating our flights, given a certain threshold that we meet. So, yes, the schedules have made our environment more competitive, more demanding on the airlines and the crew members themselves.
I also think it is a very difficult question to answer in the respect that this issue is seeing a lot more attention today than perhaps years ago. So the threshold of where we started from as compared to today is rather difficult to get your arms around. But I think just on the issue of the deregulated environment, the schedules being driven by a highly competitive environment makes us subject to additional demands at the airline.
Mr. BASS. Appreciate your responses. I would only observe that there may be some of both. I think you touched on it, competitiveness versus reporting. You have much better reporting. You have a lot more pilots than you did 20 or 30 years ago. You have a better system in place, more regulation, more accountability, hopefully, and yet on the other hand far greater number of flights.
I do not have any time left. I was going to ask one other question. But I do want to compliment you, Captain Borrelli, as a New Hampshire resident, for being here today. I did not realize that. And New Hampshire is certainly a great place and has a lot of good pilots who reside in our great State because we have the lowest per capita tax rate in the country.
Mr. BORRELLI. May I encourage you to keep it that way.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Bass.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. BASS. We have no income tax in New Hampshire.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mrs. Danner.
Ms. DANNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am not totally sure that I would agree with you that it is more difficult today than it used to be in piston aircraft.
My husband is a retired airline captain, and when I recall the stories of him going up and down and up and down and up and downand you know what I meanthat is rather fatiguing, too, as compared to his last flights, as one of the most senior captains, on his airline.
I am sorry Mr. DeFazio has left. I could not help but razz Peter just a little bit about people sleeping in the cockpit. When I think of the number of Members, frankly, I have seen just sleeping prior to a vote. And Mr. Coyne knows whereof I speak.
My greater concern is with the 8-hour rest period. I am not sure that that is truly adequate, because it is really not 8 hours' rest, depending on where the hotel is located, whether the van gets there on time to pick you up, and I could go on and on. You all know that you have forgotten more about it than I know, except by osmosis to a great degree. I question whether that is really adequate or not, and I do not know that it is.
The other question I would have, when you are talking about fatigue, would I assume that that becomes part of your sick leave? Because I think all of you have sick leave. If you call in and say that you are fatigued, does that then take away from your sick leave? Is it just like calling in and saying I have an ear infection and I should not fly? Or does fatigue count for sick leave?
Mr. BORRELLI. It would not at our airline, no.
Mr. WELLS. It does at ours. At FedEx it does. You call in fatigued and you call in sick for the portion of the trip or the whole trip.
Ms. DANNER. Okay.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. RUBIN. I am proud that our management at American has recently responded to that issue. Whereas before we were charged for sick time, even in fact when the airline was not complying with regulations that placed a pilot in a position where he could not really fly and then was charged with that penalty to his sick time, now that the FAA is positioning to enforce the regulationsand the cat is out of the bag as far as that is concernedwe were successful in convincing management of American Airlines that it was an unfair practice.
And just recently, in fact starting August 31, American implemented a new policy that provides the ability of any pilot that feels he is fatigued on a reserve assignment from simply passing without having that benefit deducted.
Ms. DANNER. Very good.
Mr. RUBIN. Good question.
Ms. DANNER. That is important to know. Would I assume that the pilot that was alluded to having been asleep when his first officer left to get him a drink of water, would the plane not have possibly been on autopilot anyhow? Is it not on autopilot much of the time, frankly, when we are in the air?
Mr. COYNE. Of course it would have been, yes. And there is a distinction between sleep and just having one's eyes shut. There are an awful lot of pilots who routinely will close their eyes, not to sleep but just to be a little more peaceful while they are flying maybe on autopilot. But they are still alert or they are still vigilant, hopefully; and the plane's autopilot systems are perfectly safe to carry on during those periods.
Mr. WELLS. Having experienced and been sleep deprived for probably 21 years now at FedEx, there are periods where you have microsleep and you lose 30 seconds or a minute. If you are in cruise and the other pilot is there, it is probably not a big deal. If you are in a descent, or during other conditions, climbing out or descending, especially descending, it can be a problem. I have been there and suddenly realized where did that 2,000 feet go. So, yes, it is a problem.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. COYNE. If I could give my own personal perspective as a pilot. My concern about fatigue in my own flying is not so much that I am going to literally fall asleep or even have a microsleep, but that because I am tired I will forget something, forget to do something, as the pilot in Little Rock last spring may have done. I do not know, we will wait on the NTSB.
But I think there is a tendency for some people in the press to sensationalize this issue by making the assertion that there are literally hundreds of pilots snoring and sleeping in the cockpit. But that is not what I think most of us in the real serious part of the business are worried about fatigue. It is because if you get fatigued, you may still be awake, but you may not be doing as good a job as a pilot as you should be if you were not fatigued. And that is an important distinction to be made.
I do not want people to be thinking there are a lot of pilots out there snoring in the cockpit, because it is just not true.
Ms. DANNER. Well, there are old pilots and bold pilots, but there are not old bold pilots.
Mr. WELLS. Very true.
Mr. RUBIN. Well, we have already heard that NASA has a database of pilots that have reported problems with fatigue. In 1988, I wrote an article in our magazine for our association called Flight Line, and the article basically was on rest requirements for reserve pilots, was our particular company in compliance. And I solicited crew member debriefs with the purpose of providing them to the FAA and to the management and of documenting the fact that we had a problem. And the response was very significant. It filled a file folder. And the reports are very, very alarming.
We have already heard from Mr. DeFazio that ALPA, in 1995, also did something similar for the NPRM, soliciting pilot debriefs that have documented the problem of fatigue. And although our representative from the air taxi pilots seems to think that it is really not a prevalent problem, I can tell you from personal experience that, flying on the back side of the clock, it is a fairly frequent problem under current regulations, especially where the airline can schedule just under 8 hours and we do not have a relief pilot, and that duty occurs during the back side of the clock.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 I can tell you that trying to remain alert and vigilant during the back side of the clock, when our circadian rhythm just literally forces us to do what it has been doing for centuries, and that is promoting us to go to sleep, it is almost impossible to remain alert and awake. A significant problem. Again, raising that flight time limit to 10 hours would only exacerbate that considerably.
Ms. DANNER. Well, in closing, you may be interested, or perhaps not interested, in knowing that just yesterday Frank Wolf, at least my letter came yesterday from Frank Wolf, a member from Virginia, sending quite a large missive to the leadership of the Congress saying that keeping us here until midnight, as they did last night, for example, so for most of us that meant a 16-hour day, that keeping us here until midnight was not in the best use of our time either, and that Members became tired and fatigued and sometimes ill because of staying here as long as we have. And I think it was just last month we were here until 1:30 a.m. After beginning at 8 a.m. So we put in some long days, too; and perhaps we become overly fatigued. Hopefully, we do the right thing. We do not always know whether that is true or not.
Thank you all so very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Mr. Lobiondo, I believe, was the one who was here next. Mr. Thune. Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you for holding this hearing, set of hearings, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Lipinski, on the very critical issue of fatigue. Fatigue never shows up in autopsies of transportation victims, but it is clearly present in the decisions that are made and in the actions that are taken or not taken. We see fatigue in every aspect of transportation: truck drivers, locomotive engineers, tug boat operators, vessel operators on the oceans and on the Great Lakes, and in aviation.
I know this is a troubling issue for the business side of aviation. Management, corporate offices, all look at this matter of fatigue and balance against how quickly we can get aircraft out, move them speedily along, and keep crew sizes down. And they continually point to and make the argument saying, well, fatigue is never cited as a cause of an accident or loss of life.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 The same can be said about stress. In the 1970s and 1980s the FAA conducted 27 different studies of controller stress. It was the Jones study, the last and the largest, denied the results of every one of their own studies came back and said, yes, controllers are stressed, they are working too many hours at controls, they have too little time of break during their hours at controls, too little vacation time, too little rest time.
The way to relieve stress in the controller environment is to improve the technology and have more full performance-level controllers. And the clearest way to relieve fatigue in the airline industry, as in the other transportation sectors, is to increase the rest and increase at least the available time for quality sleep.
So when we look and compare these various sectors of aviation, Part 135 schedule operator, 1,200 hours a year; Part 135 unscheduled, 1,400 hours a year; Part 121 operator, 1,000 hours a year; and then you go down and there are different variations. One can work 120 hours a month, the other 100, another 500 and a quarter, 800 and two consecutive quarters, and it gets increasingly more complicated.
I do not think you can make a defensible argument for not merging Part 121 and 135 standards. I do not think in the name of public safety you can argue that one should be operating at a different level. My good friend, Jim, your statement says, ''Part 135 certificate holders must have versatility to comply with the on-demand nature of unscheduled FAR Part 135 operations.'' and then you have, in a previous paragraph, ''pilot is either working or at rest.'' a body at rest may not be asleep. And a body at work, there are two different parts of being at work. There is flight time and there is duty time. They are two different things. And we have now specified when duty time begins, when the brake is released. It ends when the brake is applied at the other end of the flight.
This is not a consistent or persuasive argument. I would just say what I said to locomotive engineers on the railroad sector and to truck drivers. I said we ought to have the freedom to operate the hours that help us to earn the most money and to be the most flexible. You do not have the right to jeopardize the lives of others in your work environment, either those under your command or those who are driving alongside you or in any other way. That is my view. Glad to have your response.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. COYNE. Well, I am pleased to report, and, of course, I would like to make the point that much of my presentation earlier this morning, when you were not here, was beyond the elements of my testimony. So you missed a very, very persuasive argument, which I would hope you will get a chance to read the record.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I assure you I will read the transcript.
Mr. COYNE. And I am not as good a writer as I am a talker, but that is only because I am Irish. So I hope you will get a chance to read what I said earlier.
But to answer your question, the safety record of 135 with regard to fatigue has been really outstanding. The NTSB has not identified, in a 135 accident, a single case where fatigue was listed as a primary cause of the accident.
Now, as you pointed out, sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what is the cause. But as these other gentlemen have pointed outand I did not even bring it upmost of the pilots in the 135 world are younger pilots. They do not have nearly the workload that scheduled carrier pilots have. These gentlemen's airlines typically fly them close to 80 hours a month. It is an unusual charter aircraft that is operated for as little as 400 hours a year. So our pilots have a very, very different environment.
But, in addition, there is another side of the safety equation that has to be addressed in the on-demand world, and that is the safety that is provided to the public by having a truly on-demand service available. Just as we have ambulances in our world, because people need instantaneous response to injuries or disasters, we need an on-demand aircraft world to provide those emergencies. As I mentioned earlier, those planes will be flying down to Wilmington, North Carolina, tomorrow morning. And they do not know whether they are going to take off at 6 a.m. Or 10 a.m. Or noon. They have to be ready to go. And their pilots today are being prepared for that, and they are all thinking about I am going to be rested, I will be ready to go, because I will be needed tomorrow to save lives, to help people in a huge natural disaster.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So our people think very consciously that the safety of the public is as important as the questions that are raised by, perhaps, theoretical arguments about fatigue. Our pilots know that fatigue is something they have to be prepared for. They have been tired in the cockpit. I have been tired in the cockpit. I have been tired on the Floor of Congress. You can be tired lots of places. But if you work professionally at it and become prepared, you will be able to live.
And the issue that you raised about work versus rest. It is important for the regulators to understand that the 135 world really is divided like that. We do not have a reserve schedule. These pilots are either scheduled to fly, or they are scheduled to be on reserve. And the airlines create a dispatch structure that is entirely different from the 135 world because they know how many reserve pilots they are going to need by statistics. They can tell how many of their schedules are going to be called. We do not have statistics like that because we do not know when the earthquakes or the hurricanes are going to strike.
We do not know when the politicians are going to need to fly, or the bankers or insurance companies, or whomever. So we cannot create a dependable reserve system. And even if we could, the businesses that exist in this world are so small, they could not afford to do it. And they could not find the pilots to do it either.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I appreciate that, but those safety operations must not be operated in an unsafe manner. If they cannot afford to operate in a totally safe environment, that is not at the margin but above the margin of safety, then they ought not to be in business, and I will tolerate them being in business.
And, furthermore, I would say a DC-10 pilot who is flying a transatlantic route has two operations, take-off and landing. In that same time that that DC-10 is crossing the Atlantic, a Part 135 carrier might be making six or seven operations. He has to be at the peak of alertness six or seven or more times a day. And I think it is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by regulators, by the Congress, by the traveling public that their lives could be at risk so that an operator can have greater flexibility; so that an operator can make more money. That is sacrificing safety at the alter of economics.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. COYNE. Mr. Congressman, I agree 100 percent with the rhetoric of your last sentence.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It is deeply felt and on the basis of long experience in this arena.
Mr. COYNE. I believe it in the good sense of the word rhetoric, in the classical Greek sense of the word. It is a very, very fine statement, and it really is true. We do not believe in sacrificing. But our members, if they cannot afford to do that safely, they will go out of business. And there will be a lot less 135 operators if they are forced to have twice as many pilots on schedule, unable to have the income to provide for them and to pay their salaries. They will be forced out of business.
And of course they will not be able to find the pilots in the first place, because all the airlines are stealing them from us. So we will have much less 135 service in this country. And that is not going to help our public safety at all.
I hope I did better than my written statement.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, no, and I will be just as happy to see unsafe operators off the agenda and assure them that.
Mr. COYNE. Well, we want to get to the unsafe operators. But the safety record of 135 is outstanding. And as I said, fatigue has not been shown to be a problem. Plus, as you know, we had the safest year in history of 135 last year.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Just remember, Vince Lombardi said, ''Fatigue makes cowards of us all.'' What he meant by that is it makes us all fail at critical times.
Mr. COYNE. Very true. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar. Mr. Moran.
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I apologize for my tardiness. I do not have any questions, since I did not hear the testimony. But I do request consent to include in the record a letter from a Kansas on-demand carrier concerning the broad brush with which the FAA is painting this rule and also just calling into question the ability to do this in the manner that the FAA is attempting to do it.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So I would appreciate the committee's consent to include in the record this letter.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much. Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Captain Borrelli. That is correct. Right?
Mr. BORRELLI. Yes, it is.
Mr. LIPINSKI. About 10 percent of my congressional district is made up of the ethnic group you belong to, so I should be able to pronounce those names.
You mentioned the initiative of new international routes that are being paper flight planned to the circumvention of FAA rules. Can you explain what you mean by paper flight planning and how this process can circumvent FAA rules?
Mr. BORRELLI. If, for example, a flight were to operate internationally and require more than three pilots on a 12-hour flight, we could paper flight plan it to show it to actually operate for 11 hours and 30 minutes, only to find out that the tracking of the flight performance shows that routinely it operates well in excess of 12 hours.
So on paper, when the schedule is submitted, it meets the requirements to crew it accordingly, when in reality it runs well over the flight time that was planned. And that is what I meant by that point.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Are you stating that that does happen?
Mr. BORRELLI. Yes, sir, it does.
Mr. LIPINSKI. And if they plan it that way and then they go beyond the plan, what is the best way for that to be brought to the attention of the FAA?
Mr. BORRELLI. Well, first of all, we can highlight it to our respective companies in the hope that they would identify that a problem exists. That would be the first threshold. If there is enough data to supportand I believe as I testified there is enough data to supportand if the problem is not corrected, then I would hope that there would be some intervention by reporting it to the FAA.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 But, again, we get into scenarios whereand I am not making arguments for the company, certainlybut they will paper flight plan it and tell you that, by the design of the flight plan, the dispatcher's best estimate on this flight is going to be legal. So we are sort of in that gray area again. The only thing we can document is the actual flight time and the performance record of the operation of that respective flight.
New York to Tel Aviv would be one example recently where we have identified at least some problems.
Mr. LIPINSKI. If the actual flight time continues to violate the paper flight plan, that would seem to me to be sufficient evidence to convince either the management of your company that they have planned this incorrectly or convince the FAA that something is going on here that is violating their rules and regulations.
Mr. BORRELLI. We provide a lot of input to our company, Congressman. That does not mean they will necessarily accept it or change it. That is, unfortunately, the case.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Do you provide much of this same input to the FAA?
Mr. BORRELLI. To my knowledge, no, we have not yet.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Is that data pertaining to this situation being currently collected by your union?
Mr. BORRELLI. Yes, it is.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Well, as soon as you have enough of that information, I am sure the entire members of this Subcommittee on Aviation would be very, very interested in that.
Mr. BORRELLI. I would appreciate that. Thank you.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I think that we have a very serious problem with fatigue. And if there are carriers who are trying to add to our problem by presenting schedules that are not realistic, I think that is a very serious situation. I am very sorry to hear about that.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. BORRELLI. Typically, when a flight is planned, it makes certain assumptions for departure and arrival delays. But they only go so far. When we operate in an environment such as New York, Newark specifically, oftentimes the delays are extensive. And I think the history on some of these flights will prove that out.
Mr. LIPINSKI. I think a pattern can always be established, frankly. And all you have to do is monitor the flights and you can establish a pattern. And you can go back to people and say you may have thought this was proper at the time you set it up, but, obviously, based upon what we have monitored here, it is not. But I also think that the FAA would certainly be interested in it. And I know, as I said, members of this committee would be interested in it.
We talked earlier about the commuting time for pilots. Have there ever been any studies done factoring in the commuting time? We talked about deadheading, and we talked about where your time really starts prior to the time you lift the brake and the plane is pushed back from the gate because of the paperwork you have to do and the other things. And I know there have been studies done on that. But I am not aware of any studies that have been done when we factor in the commuting time also. Is there anyone here on the panel that is aware of anything like that?
Mr. COYNE. I am not aware of anything, no. Interesting to see.
Mr. WELLS. No.
Mr. LIPINSKI. It would seem to me if studies are going to come up with a real legit answer would have to factor in the commuting time. I know Congressman Boswell is the one who got us into this, and he says that the day he flies out here, he may not be quite as alert. And I know I fly a shorter distance here than he does, and I know on the day that I fly in here I may not be quite as alert as I will be the following day. It is a relatively short flight, and I know I am getting older, but some of those pilots that are flying me out here are not much younger than I am, if they are younger than I am.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So that is something I think that should be taken into consideration in any studies or surveys that are done in the future in regards to this issue of fatigue.
Gentlemen, I thank you very much for your testimony here today. We have had a lot of very good questions asked, and I appreciate your being here and trying to answer them to the best of your ability.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Lipinski.
To the three captains, have any of your organizations ever taken any kind of surveys, or do you know of any studies, or do you have guesses or estimates of roughly what percentage of the time pilots are fatigued, to the extent that it would interfere with their flying? In other words, how much of a problem are we talking about here?
Captain Borrelli, you said you have turned down, I think, two flights. Is that what you said?
Mr. BORRELLI. Yes, sir. That is in 18 years.
Mr. DUNCAN. That is what I am getting at. You have been there 18 years, and how many flights have you made in that 18 years? Rough guess.
Mr. BORRELLI. I would have no way of estimating. Total flight time probably, maybe 16,000 hours of flight time.
Mr. DUNCAN. All I am trying to figure out is how much of a problem is this. The implication or the thrust or the gist of your testimony is that if pilots felt they could decline flights because of fatigue, without any repercussions at all, how often do you think it would be done? I am just trying to get a handle on this or figure it out.
Mr. BORRELLI. It is difficult for me to put a number or a percentage on it. I do think the incidence would be higher.
Mr. DUNCAN. But you do not know whether it would be 1 percent or 10 percent?
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. BORRELLI. I do not. I just think that pilots would fear intimidation and reprisal from management if they stepped forward and said I just arrived from a flight and I fell asleep. Or I think they are reluctant to step forward, many pilots, and say I am too fatigued to operate the next flight.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, let us see. Captain Rubin, you are wanting to say something. Go ahead.
Mr. RUBIN. Yes, I am. One of the things that I do not want us to lose sight of is the very nature of fatigue itself. Fatigue itself is a very insidious problem. The person who is really fatigued cannot truly assess the level of their impairment.
It is similar to the effect of hypoxia. Are you familiar with the high-altitude chamber experiments that are conducted? You put a pilot or anybody in a high-altitude chamber and ask them to perform a bunch of tests at high altitude and they videotape the subject. And when he returns back to Earth and the pressure is reduced back to sea level, the effect is very pronounced when you are at altitude. And when you look at your result, you are very surprised to see you have performed so poorly.
So, in fact, we really do not know to what extent fatigue exists out there. But based upon the weekly reports I get from the smattering of pilots that will document the problem, I can tell you that it is a problem, and it is a serious problem. And it is one that we do have the ability, through sensible regulations, to avoid the consequences of.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I know that we can get the information. I do not know that you all have ever seen anything like this, but maybe you have. Have any of you ever seen specifically what percentage of flights are being made with a flight crew that has had the minimum 8 hours' rest?
Mr. Coyne mentioned that there are 20 million flights a year. Do any of you have any guess, or have you ever seen that type of figure? I know in the abortion debate we always get bogged down on the number of abortions given to people who become pregnant because of rape or incest, but that is only like .4 percent. It is a horrible thing when it happens, but it is a very, very small percentage. I am wondering, is this a small percentage or a big percentage? I do not know enough about it.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. COYNE. Well, sadly, there is no good data on that, Congressman. But I would suspect that if you polled pilots at the end of their flight, during a course of a period, and asked them during that flight did you feel that fatigue was a problem, a safety problem during the course of the flight, a very, very small percentage of the flights would have been impacted. And I think it is probably common sense for us to surmise which flights would be the ones most likely to have had a pilot saying that perhaps fatigue was. It would be the very, very long flights involving several time zones. Six or seven time zones. It would be those flights at 3 and 4 in the morning.
But the vast, vast majority of the flights, as you know, that exist during regular hours, not on the back of the clock, most all of the flights in America for commercial service are in the normal 7 a.m. To midnight hours; and in the vast majority of those flights, this is not a problem.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, the ATA has given us information that says that the average pilot flies, I think, 13 or 14 days a month. None of you have any complaints about that; is that correct? They say that that means there should be plenty of time for a pilot to be rested up. But what you are talking about are having flights that do not have enough hours in between them; is that right? Or are you complaining about the 13 to 14 days also?
Mr. RUBIN. No, we have no complaints about the amount of time we are given. And in many cases the amount of time we have off is used to recover from fatigue that is cumulative. But the days off really do not weigh in to the problem that we literally have, and that problem is to be rested within a period of time before you fly.
You can be off for 4 days, but if you are out there on vacation and you are out there exerting yourself and you have not gotten a lot of rest, the amount of days off really are not going to weigh in to your preparedness for the time that you are actually going to be entrusted with the flying public.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 So it is within any one 24-hour period that you really have to look at the requirement of sleep and to address the amounts of duty, to reduce that, so that we do not result in extensive wakefulness, especially towards the back side of the clock. And the amount of days off in any particular time is really irrelevant. It is just looking back to the time before you actually do something involving public safety that should count.
Mr. DUNCAN. Would any of you have a guesstimate or an idea about how many commercial pilots have to fly to get to their home base? Is it half?
Mr. COYNE. Are you talking about commuting?
Mr. WELLS. Commuters?
Mr. DUNCAN. Talking about commuting by air. In other words, how many live, let's say, more than 100 miles away from their home base, or a far enough distance away that they actually have to commute by air?
It seems to me Mr. Coyne has pointed out a very significant difference between the situation his people are in and the situation that many of your people are in, in that when he said almost all of his people live just a few minutes away or live right there, with their planes almost. And that seems to me to be a pretty significant difference. Mr. Coyne has basically said, as I understand itand I have seen this in many other areas, in education and all kinds of thingsthat sometimes these top-down, one-size-fits-all regulations just end up doing more harm than good.
I assume that is the thrust of your testimony, Congressman Coyne; is that correct?
Mr. COYNE. Absolutely. And we really want to do the right thing. We truly believe that if we were to impose the same rules that these folks wantnow, of course, I believe that they can get their rules through just their regular labor negotiations, if they want to, which is another way to skin the cat for them, but in our situation that would not be helpful at all. It would create sets of rules that would really reduce, I believe, the ability to meet the public safety demands of our country.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. DUNCAN. Well, actually, that is the first question that I was given by staff. Why do you all think that union contracts cannot take care of this; that there needs to be FAA regulations about this?
Mr. WELLS. Because not all pilots are covered by union contracts.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, where they are covered.
Mr. WELLS. Excuse me?
Mr. DUNCAN. Where they are covered, though, by union contracts, do you think this is something that should be handled by regulation?
Mr. BORRELLI. Let me answer that, if I could.
Mr. DUNCAN. Sure.
Mr. BORRELLI. I do not think we should be put in a position where we are forced to negotiate and trade away other items where safety is concerned. I think that should be part of the regulatory and the legislative process. Because it is common sense, because public safety is involved.
I do not feel I should have to be at the bargaining table trying to improve regulations on behalf of the passengers that are in the back of my airplane and the pilots that I represent.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that is a good answer.
Mr. WELLS. I would like to answer that.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes.
Mr. WELLS. I was just handed a copy of a statement on pilot fatigue submitted by the IPA to the Subcommittee on Aviation dated today, and I was wondering if this could be included in the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, sir, it certainly can.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. WELLS. And, also, there was a study done, which I alluded to in my testimony, which was published in February of 1996, from NASA; and it is referred to in the industry as the FedEx study and has to do with overnight cargo operations. And it showed the cumulative effect of sleep debt of about 2 hours per day for a pilot. So at the end of the week we have missed out on a full night's sleep.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that leads into another question that I wondered about, because Captain Rubin commented at least twice in his testimony or in answers, I think first in testimony and then in an answer, where he talked about the effect of nighttime flying. Do any of you think that there should be a different rule for nighttime flying as opposed to daytime flying?
Mr. RUBIN. Well, we have actually proposed a difference in the limitations for nighttime flying. We proposed a maximum duty period, the period of multiple flight time experiences of 12 hours, but reducing it to 10 hours during what we call the back side of the clock.
Mr. DUNCAN. So you proposed 12 hours during the day and 10 hours at night?
Mr. RUBIN. That is correct, and 8 hours of flight time during the day and 7 hours of flight time during the back side of the clock. And, more specifically, when it impinges with what science has referred to as the ''window of circadian low,'' when our ability to defeat the inducement of sleep is at its lowest, from 2 in the morning to 6 in the morning.
Mr. DUNCAN. Did you want to say something, Captain Wells?
Mr. WELLS. No, I completely agree with his answer.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much. This has been a very informative hearing, and you have been very helpful and we appreciate it very much.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 3 Of 3 Mr. DUNCAN. That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 11:48 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]