You may have seen in the news recently that the safety over passenger airlines has been called into question. This is because of the long hours that the pilots have been expected to work and has resulted in reported incidents of pilots falling asleep while in the air.
This may be headline news at the moment due to the potential catastrophic loss of life of the pilots, cabin crew and passengers but we must also take into consideration the airfreight side to what is flying around in the skies above us and the airfreight pilot.
This is because they will usually fly longer hours than their passenger equivalent, have less time to sleep and be more at risk because of sleep deficiency.
A new act due to start at the beginning of next year is about to be challenged and it relates to the US 2014 safety law governing pilots working hours but this would exclude cargo pilots flying airfreight and cargo.
Passenger and airfreight flights take up the same air space and land at the same airports all over the globe so its something than cannot be ignored and the industry as a whole will need to apply the new regulation in order to stop a potential disaster happening.
Airfreight pilots should be getting the same recovery time as a passenger pilot and the rules need to apply to the actual pilot as opposed to what is in the plane with him be it people of airfreight cargo.
The legislation designed by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) limits a passenger pilot to 9 hours maximum flying time in the air and then says that the rest period on the ground should be a minimum of 10 hours, which should, in theory, give them approximately 8 hours of time in which to sleep.
Airfreight pilots are excluded from this and it will continue to be an issue for our industry unless the law can be changed prior to the start date of January 2014.
We understand that the Independent Pilots Association will file a lawsuit in order to get all cargo operations covered including the airfreight pilots but there are some who are opposed to airfreight pilots and the cargo industry being included because it may increase the cost of airfreight to those that use the services.
It will be interesting to see if the changes will be accepted and if the ruling will end up covering all pilots.