UPS Pilots, Cargo Carriers File Papers in Duty Rule Case

 - January 25, 2012, 5:56 PM
Workers load a UPS 747-400 freighter. The union representing UPS pilots is contesting the exclusion of cargo carriers from the FAA’s new pilot duty and rest requirements. The association representing cargo carriers has sided with the FAA. (Photo: UPS)

The union representing UPS pilots filed a preliminary statement of the issues it will pursue in court to try to amend the FAA’s recently issued pilot duty and rest requirements, which exclude air cargo operators.

The Independent Pilots Association (IPA), representing 2,600 UPS pilots, filed the preliminary statement of issues January 23 as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The IPA had originally filed a petition for review of the FAA regulation on December 22, the day after the agency announced it. The Cargo Airline Association (CAA), representing air cargo carriers, filed a motion January 18 to intervene on the side of the FAA. Southern Air, of Norwalk, Connecticut, filed its own motion to intervene on the FAA’s side on January 23.

By February 6 the FAA must file with the court a certified index of the record, essentially a catalog of its regulatory docket and any other information the agency used in reaching its decision.

The IPA contends in the preliminary statement of issues that the FAA was “arbitrary and capricious” and lacked evidence to support its arguments for excluding all-cargo operations from the new Part 117 flight crewmember duty and rest requirements. The argument cites the agency’s “decision to discard” its proposal to include cargo operators within the scope of the rule, contained in an earlier notice of proposed rulemaking. The association argues that the FAA erred in assuming that avoiding one fatal cargo accident—costing just a fraction of the industry’s overall cost of complying with the duty rule—represents the only societal benefit of applying the rule to cargo carriers. The assessment didn’t include the costs of nonfatal accidents and taxiing incidents and accidents. The agency also estimated the lost value of an aircraft hull at one-eighth the amount it uses elsewhere in the rule as an aircraft’s estimated market value, according to the IPA document.

Among other issues, the IPA contends that the FAA did not provide interested parties an opportunity to review and comment on its cost-benefit calculations and failed to consider that cargo operations more often involve night-time operations and flying across multiple time zones, which exacerbate pilot fatigue.

The CAA, in its motion to intervene in support of the FAA, expressed a “strong interest in defending the rational, cost-benefit justified approach” the FAA adopted in promulgating the pilot duty rule. The CAA’s airline membership consists of ABX Air, Atlas Air, FedEx Express, UPS, Capital Cargo International, DHL Express and Kalitta Air. It has three airport associate members: Louisville International Airport, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (Memphis International Airport) and Fort Wayne International Airport.