CAPA calls on Congress to pass the "Safe Skies Act" to end the cargo carve-out

Washington, D.C. (April 12, 2016) — The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, (CAPA) representing more than 30,000 professional passenger and all-cargo pilots is calling on Congress to end the cargo carve-out and pass the “Safe Skies Act” amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill currently being debated in the Senate. We applaud the continued efforts of Senator Boxer, along with co-sponsors Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) with this crucial piece of safety legislation.

“Senator Boxer’s bill fixes a huge safety gap in our air transportation system today”, stated CAPA President Captain Mike Karn. “Congress has the opportunity to address this issue. A vote against the Safe Skies Act is a vote against aviation safety”, he added.

Following the deadly 2009 Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, Congress took action to prevent future tragedies mandating that the Department of Transportation (DOT) issue science-based regulations addressing pilot fatigue in our nation’s airlines. However, in 2013 a dangerous precedent was set when the DOT decided that different levels of safety applied to pilots based on what they carry on the airplane. Known as the “Cargo Carve-Out”, cargo airline pilots do not have the same duty and rest requirements as pilots flying passengers.

After substantial research and review of undisputed scientific evidence on sleep cycles and fatigue, the rules created a “second tier” (substandard set) of requirements related to duty and rest time for cargo pilots. Ignoring these irrefutable facts and the recommendations from safety experts, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs removed all references to cargo airlines from the final rules suggesting that a cost of imposing this safety regulation did not outweigh the benefits to the public. More simply stated, preventing the deaths of two pilots and the loss of some cargo does not exceed the cost to a corporation to change their pilots’ schedules.

Capt. Karn stated, “Safety is our number one focus, and we cannot continue operating with two levels of safety.” “Time and time again we see tragic, and avoidable, plane crashes where fatigue is one of the factors contributing to, or outright to blame, for these accidents,” he added. The National Transportation Safety Board listed preventing fatigue related accidents as their number one “Most Wanted” improvements in transportation safety for 2016, citing the deadly 2013 UPS plane crash in Birmingham, Alabama as an example.

“The time is now to end the cargo carve-out once and for all. Congress must not let another tragedy be the reason for action”, stated CAPA President Mike Karn.

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