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Secretary Ray LaHood Press Conference on Pilot Fatigue Department of Transportation

Good morning and welcome to DOT.  Thank you also – and especially – FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.  This morning, we’re announcing a major proposed rulemaking that will help protect the 700 million passengers who fly every year.  And, Randy, it’s an enormous tribute to your leadership and advocacy over decades.
 
As most of you know, after last year’s Colgan Air accident, we in the Obama Administration vowed to improve safety at both major airlines and regional carriers – a reflection of the fact that safety is our number one priority.  We held a dozen safety forums all across the country.  And many carriers – large and small – voluntarily took positive steps to strengthen safety.  We commend and thank them for their leadership. 

This morning, we’re announcing proposed changes that go even further – increasing the amount of time that pilots are able to rest between flights.  If adopted, this new rule will: give pilots the opportunity to get nine hours of rest before a flight, place new limits on the numbers of hours a pilot can fly weekly and monthly, and ensure that pilots have a greater number of hours off duty every week.
 
This proposed rule will give airlines greater flexibility to adjust scheduling.  Air carriers will have the option to tailor their scheduling in accordance with the types of flights they fly – whether long haul or regional.  And, importantly, this rule will give pilots the right to decline an assignment if they are fatigued – without penalty.

The bottom line is this: America’s skies are the safest they’ve ever been.  But they must be safer.  And the Obama Administration’s proposed pilot fatigue rule will help assure that they are.

Now, I’m pleased to turn over the podium to Administrator Randy Babbitt, who will share more of the details.   Thank you very much.

Friday, September 10, 2010