UPS Pilots Union Sues FAA Challenging New Anti-Fatigue Rules

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) — The union representing United Parcel Service Inc. pilots is challenging the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to exempt the crew of cargo planes from rules aimed at combating fatigue.

The Independent Pilots Association filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington seeking to have cargo operators covered “because of the safety benefits provided by the rule,” William Trent, the union’s general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.

The FAA yielded to “unprecedented industry pressure” when it exempted cargo airlines in the new rules, Robert Travis, president of the pilots group, said yesterday after the regulation was published.

Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The FAA rules, which take effect in two years, require that passenger-airline pilots work shorter shifts and get longer rest periods. It was the first revision of rest rules since 1985.

While the agency had proposed applying the new measures to cargo-carrier pilots, the final rule exempted them because the costs were too steep, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.

The pilots’ union argued that the FAA let cargo operators submit information about costs of complying with the rule after the comment period ended, and the data weren’t subjected to public scrutiny.

“The rule is wholly and utterly opaque when it comes to providing any factual support for the cost benefit conclusions,” Trent said in the statement.

Mike Mangeot, a UPS spokesman, declined to comment on the union’s lawsuit.

“The bottom line is that the FAA made the right decision,” he said in an e-mail. “Cargo flying is different than passenger flying.”

The case is Independent Pilots Association v. Federal Aviation Administration, 11-1483, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).

Editors: Fred Strasser, Steve Geiman