A Tale of Two Rulemakings

By Deborah Hersman

The weekend is almost here, and by the end of the workweek, you may be feeling a little fatigued. Having enough time away from the office to rest is critical to performing well at work, and it is all the more important when that work involves transporting people on complex machines like trains and planes.

Earlier this month, the Federal Railroad Administration issued its final rule on hours of service for employees providing commuter and intercity rail passenger transportation. The product of several working group and task force meetings, it took less than 6 months to move from proposed to final rule. I was encouraged to see the FRA move forward with a significant change, so quickly.

Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration’s efforts to establish new hours of service regulations have not met with similar good fortune. The FAA was on track to issue a final rule very close to the legislatively mandated deadline of August 1. As proposed, the rule would take into consideration key factors such as workload and time-zone changes, address the challenges of nighttime operations, and redefine off-duty time to give flight crews a better chance of sufficient rest. Moreover, it included provisions for other methods for addressing fatigue if a company’s special operations and needs made compliance with the prescribed methods unfeasible. As we noted in our comments to this proposal, “Implementation of the proposed revisions will represent a significant improvement in the regulations to prevent flight crew fatigue in Part 121 operations.”

It’s regrettable that we don’t have a final rule because some special interests are opposed to working within this proposed system for addressing fatigue and improving safety. The FAA deserves much credit for its hard work! But like a long work day, time is not our friend. I hope that the roadblocks that are preventing the FAA from finalizing this rule will be eliminated very soon.

3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Rulemakings”

  1. I could not agree more. Having been one of the members of the 2009 Flight and Duty Time ARC, it is disappointing to see after agreement was reached conceptually, that special interest groups have now attempted to block this essential new rule. It quite simply places the traveling public at continued risk.

  2. The irony to all of this is that those who make the rules and changes in the rules are part of that traveling public. So are their families. So are the interest groups and their families. It is totally against all common sense and logic for anyone to create roadblocks toward a path of safer travel for all.

  3. Debbie, Your comments are so very well written, you are such a great
    advocate of transportation safety and especially so for the Regional Airline flying public.

    We are so greatful for you tireless efforts, our champion !!!

    Thank you.
    Jim Neill
    Famliy member of #3407 Memorial

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