Carbajal, Klobuchar Bill Protects Pilots, Airspace with Stronger Rest Rules

Washington, September 17, 2021 | Mannal Haddad (202-281-7612 )

Washington, DC – Rep. Salud Carbajal and Senator Klobuchar led a bipartisan and bicameral coalition of lawmakers in introducing H.R. 4075, the Safe Skies Act of 2021, with the support of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), and the Independent Pilots Association (IPA). 


The bipartisan bill ensures cargo pilots are operating under the same rules to fight fatigue and keep our airspace free from danger as other pilots. Currently, cargo pilots are operating under weaker flight, duty, and rest regulations than their commercial airline counterparts. The discrepancy in safety regulations leads to increased pilot fatigue and duress, which can have damaging consequences for everyone who uses our shared airspace. In 2019,  


The Safe Skies Act addresses the safety double standard by applying the same strong standards for cargo pilots that exist for passenger airline pilots. The House bill, introduced by Carbajal, is co-sponsored by Reps. John Katko (R-NY-24), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), Kaialiʻi Kahele (D-HI-2), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), John Garamendi (D-CA-3) and Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2). Senator Klobuchar introduced companion legislation in the Senate.



Carbajal hosted members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, cargo pilots, commercial pilots and aviation experts in a press conference in 2019 to introduce the bill. WATCH HERE. 


It should go without saying that cargo pilots and crews deserve to be safe in their workplace. More needs to be done to ensure pilots, crews, passengers, and all who share our skies are safe. The bipartisan Safe Skies Act is a commonsense bill that puts safety first,” said Rep. Carbajal. “By applying the same rules that keep commercial pilots safe to cargo pilots, we can close a dangerous loophole that puts undue stress and fatigue on our cargo pilots. We need one strong standard of safety and this bill would make that standard a reality.” 


“It shouldn’t matter if a pilot is flying a cargo or a commercial plane – it is critical we address pilot fatigue,” said Sen. Klobuchar, “Closing this loophole will help prevent potential tragedies and ensure the safety of all involved.”


“This common-sense legislation will ensure that safety standards are applied uniformly in the aviation industry,” said Congressman Cartwright. “Cargo plane pilots perform an essential role in our economy, and they deserve the same workplace protections as commercial airline pilots.” 


“As a current and qualified U.S. commercial airline pilot, I know how important fatigue standards are to ensuring safety in our skies,” said Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02). “Regardless if your flying people or packages, a pilot is a pilot and plane is a plane. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Safe Skies Act which would establish work rest parity across the aviation industry.” 


“Cargo and passenger pilots should both be governed by the same flight, duty, and rest times,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to co-lead the Safe Skies Act, which ensures that cargo pilots operate with the same safety standards as their commercial pilot counterparts.” 


“Airline pilots are affected by fatigue the same, regardless of whether we fly passengers or freight. However, based on statistics, the cargo accident rate is seven times higher than passenger airline operations with fatigue as a contributing factor. It is time for Congress to pass the Safe Skies Act and ensure one level of safety for all airline operations,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president.  

“CAPA stands steadfast and unwavering in our support of the Safe Skies Act of 2021 and industry standard rules for all airlines. It is vitally important to ensure that the safety of our nation's transportation system remains paramount," said CAPA President Capt. Larry Rooney. "Until Flight Duty and Rest regulations are applied to all-cargo carriers and supplemental carriers, we will never have ‘One-Level-of-Safety’ which, in its absence, sadly places our nation’s airline safety system at great risk for an unfortunate, preventable and costly tragedy.” 


“Pilots flying for UPS, FedEx, and Amazon operate in the same crowded skies as those flying for Delta, United, and American Airlines,” said IPA President Robert Travis. “Now is the time for Congress to put an end to the special status carved out by the cargo airline industry allowing them to fill the nation’s skies with large jets operated by pilots not subject to the same national, science-based fatigue rules as those flying passengers. Creating one level of aviation safety for both passenger and cargo is critical to ensuring safety for all.”   


Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. 

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