Back to Squawk list
  • 29

This is Your Captain Sleeping..... Will the New FAA rest rules make a difference?

Patrick Smith's (hey that's me) ASK THE PILOT column takes a look at the new flight/duty time rules... An excerpt: "...Perhaps the most important change is the one stipulating that pilots must now receive a minimum 10-hour rest period between assignments (i.e., workdays), with an opportunity for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Until now, not only have rest periods been reduceable to as few as eight hours, the very definition of “rest” itself has failed to account for… ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

canuck44 0
Fortunately some actual science is being brought to the table and Patrick touches on that and the immediate need to improve conditions to prevent fatigue. "Sleep" is complex and has become a medical subspecialty of three or four other specialties notably Pulmonology, Otolaryngology, and Neurology. Many kids with diagnoses of ADHD (and other fashionable labels) actually are quite normal but have significant sleep disturbance with "brain fatigue" that is often correctable. Growth hormone (needed for normal physiological function at all ages) is reduced as is leptin, a hormonal appetite suppressant amongst others when the brain fails to reach deep planes of sleep, particularly REM.

Irregular hours and lack of daylight exposure play a role in brain rest and alertness. Many of the parameters are altered with age with the two ends of the spectrum requiring more sleep than those in the middle...unfortunately I am on the wrong end of the curve.

Changes are likely to be incremental, but the important part is that they will be made on the basis of physiology not purely economic criteria. Ultimately we will see individualized analysis of sleep patterns as part of aircrew medicals.
canuck44 0
PS:...great title, Patrick.
Marcus Pradel 0
1 - the new rules are better than nothing.
2 - 10 'rest' hours might not be enough.
3 - beats working a regular job for 40-50 hours per week for 10 years before you are making the same +100K per year, and even then you don't get to work just 4 days on with 5 days off.
chetsgenius 0
The fact that these rules don't pertain to cargo pilots is bogus, and they extended the flight hours for pilots instead of flying 8 hours they can now fly 9, which means that instead of having a relief pilot on your flight to europe it will just be two pilots trying to stay awake for 9 hours on a flight on the backside of the clock. Where do you get that pilots make 100k a year? Some do for sure, but my husband has been with the airlines for 11 years and hasn't made that yet. He also doens't get 5 days off in a row unless he has vacation...
borderplt 0
Well as usual the freight world has been left out. Sad to see the same old "who cares it a frieghter" attitude still applies. When its the freighters that really could use better rest due to the oddities of irradic schedules.
astrojet120 0
Even though I'm not a pilot, I think it's alot like Driving a car with no sleep
only worse because you can't just pull over to the side of the road and rest.
jst1592 0
While I applaud the new rules, it still falls short. The FAA's 'one level of safety" slogan, has been made a joke. They still have "blankets" of safety, which is why the NTSB, still has issues with this rule.
EDWARD moore 0
Good article, its not perfect as most have stated'' , The young pilots who fly in the worst conditions and lousy working conditions (great Lakes') will get some much needed rest.... its about time''
sparkie624 0
One of the biggest lies is "I am from the FAA and I would like to help" Mean while holding a Noose and a Yard Arm behind him.
Work/Rest cycles have been a bane on many industries along with the Airline industry. I have seen many schemes in the past, and all found one important drawback, it would cost the companies more in labor costs as crew availability would drop. And all those schemes depended upon the supposition that all human bodies reacted the same way. However we are not robots.

There was a time when I could work 91 days straight on my "rest", and not miss a beat. Such is not the case today.

Also, while aiming at the improvement of physiological conditions, there must be corresponding examination of one of the big influences of the body, the brain (read psychological well being). The body, while being elastic in nature, will not endure abuse forever, and try to create a way to cope. The same holds true for the brain.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.