Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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Flight Attendants are Rest-less! 

APFA Government Affairs would like to thank the members who have provided valuable input on the challenges endured when Flight Attendants are faced with inadequate rest. 

Now we need your help. Please join in our efforts to finally achieve a comprehensive Flight Attendant fatigue policy including a Fatigue Risk Management Program. 

Add your voice by signing the letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta at www.apfa.org/we-are-restless/.

Congress plans to write and pass a long-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (“FAA bill") in 2016. This is the law that allows the FAA to operate and generally sets the agency's priorities and direction. The FAA bill provides the best opportunity for long-suffering Flight Attendants to address the debilitating fatigue experienced while to on the job. As Congress prepares the FAA bill, Flight Attendants and supporters are pushing lawmakers to add provisions that will finally give adequate rest to our workforce. 

APFA's Plan to Address Flight Attendant Fatigue

APFA has a clear plan with a history of achieving positive results. We’ve devised a strategy to establish an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to examine Flight Attendant fatigue and write new regulations to address it. A science-based approach is the best path to success and one that proved successful for the pilots. The science is in and it is indisputable: rest-less Flight Attendants put themselves and their passengers in jeopardy. 

Other Flight Attendant unions are pursuing a different strategy calling for 10 hours of rest, (defined as the time between arrival and departure) targeting improvement for our brothers and sisters at the regional carriers.  APFA has set the bar higher in order to achieve meaningful benefit for our members.  Flight Attendant fatigue regulations need to be comprehensive and benefit ALL Flight Attendants both mainline and regional.

An ARC would be convened by the FAA and bring in all the various stakeholders as well as scientists and technical experts. While we understand that the FAA may initially have concerns about the creation of a new ARC, we believe focusing on an Administrative solution has a far greater chance of success than trying to overcome  overwhelming opposition in the GOP controlled Congress. We would expect the ARC to include representatives of mainline and regional Flight Attendant unions, airlines, sleep experts, medical professionals, and others. The ARC would examine crew scheduling practices, contract language, the science of sleep and circadian rhythms including the Civil Aeronautic Medical Institute (CAMI) fatigue studies that many Flight Attendants have participated in over the years. Based on this research, the ARC would then recommend a new rule for Flight Attendant rest requirements. The rule would then undergo the standard federal rule making process before becoming an FAA regulation.

We know that the airline industry is pushing back on the issue of Flight Attendant fatigue, just as they did with the pilots. In 2009, Flight Attendants were reclassified by the Department of Labor as “essential to the operation of the aircraft” along with pilots and air traffic controllers. Pilots and air traffic controllers now have fatigue programs in place. It is our turn! And it is past time for Flight Attendants to have a comprehensive fatigue policy.

You can help by adding your name to APFA's petition to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta at: www.apfa.org/we-are-restless/.

Clearly, 8 to 10 hours of rest is not enough to perform our jobs at a high level. Flight Attendants need a comprehensive federal policy that provides everyone with adequate rest. APFA’s strategy will achieve a science-based solution that addresses duty day and minimum layover as well as off schedule operations. This approach follows the pilots’ successful model. As we consider longer duty days and block times, Flight Attendants need to be provided safe and healthy rest that is based on data and science, just like the Pilots.

Julie Frederick
APFA National Government Affairs Chair

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