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CAPA criticises passing of FAA legislation due to cargo aircraft pilot rest rules

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) has criticised the passing of legislation passed by the US Congress in the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 as said it keeps in place rules that exempt cargo aircraft pilots from more-stringent rest rules that apply to pilots of passenger aircraft.

The US Senate passed the five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill on 2 October sending the measure to the White House for signature and enactment. It is expected to be considered by President Donald Trump on 7 October.

CAPA’s members represent pilots at cargo carriers and it said in a statement: “Unfortunately, this bill has left out two important steps to ensure system safety by not rectifying the inconsistent safety rules on pilot fatigue and rest known as the ‘Cargo Carve-out’ and by ignoring language that would prohibit attempts by foreign carriers to obtain ‘Flags of Convenience’ certificates to operate in the US. We are concerned that both of these undermine U.S. airline safety standards.

“Today we at CAPA rejoin the struggle and bolster our efforts to win these necessary safety enhancements. We call on both houses of Congress to join with us in the months ahead to address both issues. Only when all steps of the ‘Safety Checklist’ are complete can we be assured of operating in safe skies.”

The US Congress vote had involved a four-plus-year process involving six short-term extensions, several versions of the bill, hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill, dozens of hearings, and debates surrounding the future of the air traffic control organization.

The process led to bipartisan legislation that passed the House last week by a 398-23 vote and the Senate by 93-6 and has broad industry support. The bill provides for long-term funding for the FAA, up to $96.7 billion through to October 2023.

It includes numerous issues of importance to the aviation industry, from certification and regulation to the enabling of the future of supersonic travel and the facilitating of an emergence of a range of new electrical and autonomous systems.

Unveiled jointly by House and Senate leaders on 22 September, the compromise bill, the Aviation, Transportation Safety, and Disaster Recovery Reforms and Reauthorization (H.R.302), also includes NTSB and TSA reauthorizations.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) applauded the passing of the TSA Modernization Act, the first ever reauthorization of TSA since the agency’s founding in 2001. The TSA said the bill authorises it to continue as an “agile and modern national security organization” capable of dealing with ever-evolving threats to our transportation system.

TSA administrator, David Pekoske said: “This legislation emphasizes stability, supports TSA’s outstanding workforce, and modernizes the agency’s structure and operations.

“I thank Congress, especially the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Committee on Homeland Security, for their work on this legislation. It will strengthen the agency and result in a more comprehensive security system to outmatch today’s dynamic threat environment.”

The bill incorporates various provisions of S. 1872, TSA Modernization Act of 2018; S. 763, Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act; H.R. 2825, DHS Authorization Act of 2017, and numerous other House-passed bills.

The reauthorization act empowers TSA to expand field operations testing of advanced screening technologies, increase use of canine resources and enhance public area security.

The TSA said it will also improve passenger and cargo security as well as cockpit and cabin security, surface transportation security and foreign airport security, which ensures that TSA can “continue to set the global benchmark for providing the highest transportation security standards in the world today”.