Controversial Amendment Withdrawn from Congressional FAA Funding Bill

House Representative Bill Shuster (R - PA) has withdrawn an amendment that some say would have further stalled a bill attempting to increase the amount of rest required for airline pilots.****

Shuster’s legislation would have required the FAA to investigate the economic effects of new rules, as well as any possible alternatives, before they could be issued. His amendment was added to the FAA budget plan last month by a 215-209 vote, but has since drawn complaints from opponents claiming the additional requirement would hold up passage of the bill.

“It is apparent that the inclusion of my amendment in the FAA bill may slow down conference negotiations and delay the adoption of this critical legislation,” Shuster said in a recent press release.

The move has been construed as a victory for proponents of the new crew rest rule, a proposal brought about after the 2009 fatal crash of a Colgan regional carrier in Buffalo, New York. In its analysis of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board noted that fatigue was likely a factor.

The new FAA rule, if adopted, would require airline pilots to receive at least nine hours of rest between shifts, as well as at least 30 hours of consecutive time-off per week. The new policy would constitute a 13 percent and 25 percent increase respectively from current requirements.

The last time the FAA proposed similar changes to crew rest requirements was in 1995, but after the influx of industry commentary on the proposed rules, they were not adopted. The Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents passenger airlines, has spoken out against the FAA’s newest proposal, saying the rules would cost $19.6 billion to implement over the next 10 years.

Lawmakers hope the removal of Shuster’s amendment will expedite the passage of the FAA Reauthorization bill, which is already several years in the making. As members of both the House and Senate struggle to agree on a stable funding bill for the FAA, the administration has relied upon 18 short-term extensions of the most recent FAA authorization bill, which expired in 2007. Next week, members of the House and Senate will consider the 19th short-term extension.


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