Council 100 Message - 11/21/19
Council 100 Message - 11/21/19


LEC 100 – Elections and Part 117 Flight Time and Rest Requirements
By now you should have received an email asking you to vote in the LEC 100 election. Although we only have one named candidate for each position, I would encourage everyone to vote; it shows the strength and engagement of our local council as total vote counts are reported. You have until Dec 10 to submit your vote.
  1. PART 117 RULES
I've received some questions about Part 117 Flight Time and Rest Requirements and your MEC's support of the provision.
In 2012, the FedEx MEC strongly backed the fatigue mitigation in Part 117 Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirements. After the infamous "cargo cut-out" happened last minute and kept cargo operators under Part 121 rest rules, most FedEx pilots were upset by separating passenger and cargo pilot rest rules. In the ensuing years, there have been various attempts by cargo pilot groups to get Part 117 rules applied to US cargo operators. Since the rule's inception, we've had time to reflect on whether the specific rules would necessarily benefit or hurt FedEx pilots.  
In July of 2019, a new legislative attempt was made and your MEC, in a split vote, backed the resolution to include us in Part 117 rules. The MEC told you that the pros and cons of the rule would be published including answers to any questions submitted by the crew force. I would expect that information soon.
In the ensuing time, I wanted to give you my personal thoughts on the decision-making process. 
Part 117 rules are science-based rules to mitigate fatigue. Now the science is such that it applies to "most" pilots, but certainly everyone is different and some of the fatigue mitigation rules may actually increase fatigue for some pilots.
Many of the rest provisions in the rule have already been implemented in our hard-fought negotiated contract. In addition, new rules were added in the 2015 CBA since the "carve out." Undoubtedly, many of the 117 rules will help our cargo brethren more than they would ourselves at FedEx. Additionally, the rule would likely only apply to Part 121 operators – it would not apply to cargo carriers operating under Part 135 rules.
Although there are several pros and cons that could be argued, my decision was primarily focused on the list below. 
  1. Greatly limits the Company's ability to extend duty time.  
117 gets rid of the "legal to start, legal to finish" rule. Although we have extensive sleep facilities at many of our hubs and have a Fatigue Risk Management System, the Company has shown time and time again their proclivity to declare an Operational Emergency at will and immediately extend duty periods to their FAR limits without crew concurrence. Currently, it is solely up to the pilots to forecast their future fatigue – something difficult to do. Duty period extensions under Part 117 are limited to two hours, must be agreed to by both the crew and dispatcher and require a 30-hour rest period immediately following the extended duty period. 
  1. Keeps all scheduled aviation in the same category – making it more difficult for future regulations concerning rest, security, single/remote pilot operations to independently "carve out" cargo carriers.
  1. Limits sequential night hub turns to three without a 3:30 hour hub turn allowing for two hours of uninterrupted rest in a suitable accommodation.
It's impossible to know how the Company would adjust system form and bid packs. Right now, there are several sequences that would be problematic and as necessary buffers are added, additional pairings would be affected. Although this provision could conceivably provide better rest during the hub turn, it's inevitable that some sequences could not be mitigated and the week on/week off lines and line purity of many (largely domestic) bidpacks could be affected – possibly requiring a third week of some flying. Some pilots would sleep better with the increased uninterrupted rest, but others would just find the additional time resulted in a longer duty day and longer delay getting to their hotel bed.
  1. Following a 168 hour/5 time zone crossing trip, a pilot would be required to have 56 hours off in his home base to include three consecutive nights. 
This would be a hard requirement that could not be waived by the pilot unlike many of our CBA rules. So, the pilot that ends a nine-day trip with a back-end deadhead could not request a bid line adjustment for a base hotel standby, for example, until he had those 56 hours/3 nights off at home. Flexibility in one's schedule would be reduced in some areas.
The Company would undoubtedly change system form to accommodate Part 117 rules. They would likely add buffers to some pairings and add reserves to cover contingencies that no longer can be covered by duty extensions.
There is a lengthy process of requesting an Alternate Means of Compliance (AMOC) from the FAA. It is possible that ALPA and the Company could jointly request an AMOC for four or five nights of sequential night hub turns. Additional AMOCs could be requested for other areas. The FAA would have to approve each one separately.
Jumpseating (unless assigned by the Company) would not count towards duty time. Ground transportation to and from hotels typically would not count towards duty time. 
Legally restricting duty extensions (as opposed to pilots using the FRMS to limit their extensions) is not always a net positive to the well-rested pilot, but it would likely reduce overall fatigue for the crew force. Part 117 rules by their nature have to be a "one size fits all."
Notably, contractual protections would not change – we would still have maximum block time of 7:35 hours for a 2-man crew, 12 hours for a 3-man crew and 16 hours for a 4-man crew. 8:30 hour bidpack trips to Europe with a 2-man crew would not happen unless we agree to a change in our CBA.
All of these considerations were taken into account when we deliberated our inclusion in the Part 117 work rule effort. The end result was a split vote in support of the resolution although I voted against it.
You can read more about 117 rules from the ALPA Guide to Flight Time Limitations. You are encouraged to submit questions to the FDX MEC about Part 117 here and you can always contact me with any concerns.
David Wojtkowski Jeff Belt Chad Conner
Council 100 Chairman Council 100 Vice Chairman Council 100 Sec/Treas