Pilot-Fatigue Rules Unchanged at FedEx, UPS After U.S. Meeting

FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. said U.S. regulators failed to persuade the two cargo airlines to adopt pilot-fatigue rules imposed on passenger carriers.

“The reality is that one size does not fit all when it comes to maintaining pilot alertness,” Maury Donahue, a spokeswoman for FedEx, said in an e-mail. “Flight scheduling at a cargo airline is very different from passenger carriers.”

Representatives from Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx and UPS were among cargo executives who met today in Washington with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration Acting Chief Michael Huerta. After announcing in December that cargo operators would be exempt from new anti-fatigue measures for passenger carriers, LaHood said he would ask them to voluntarily adopt the new standards.

LaHood and Huerta “had a productive meeting today with our cargo partners and look forward to working together to ensure the safety of our national air transportation system,” Justin Nisly, a Transportation Department spokesman, said in a statement.

Kara Gerhardt Ross, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based UPS, said the company currently operates under “a much higher standard” for fatigue prevention and doesn’t need to adopt the new rules. The airline is committed to working with the FAA to achieve “the best practices for fatigue mitigation,” she said in a phone interview. The company has opposed applying pilot-fatigue rules to its operations.

Cargo airlines, which operate more flights at night than passenger carriers, have argued that altering pilot schedules would be too costly and are unnecessary.

Under the rules, set to take effect in December 2013, passenger pilots would get longer rest periods between shifts and have their work hours curtailed during overnight flights or after crossing multiple time zones.

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