UPS Pilots Encourage LaHood Ahead of Fatigue Rule Opt-in Meeting with UPS

Feb 29, 2012, 13:00 ET from Independent Pilots Association

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tomorrow, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled to meet with executives from UPS and request that the cargo giant voluntarily opt-in to the new FAA rule on pilot fatigue. This meeting to seek elective compliance from cargo airlines is a commitment the Secretary made late last year when he announced the new rule.

In support of the Secretary's initiative, the Independent Pilots Association (UPS pilots union) delivered the following letter (see text below) to Secretary LaHood this morning.

Recent correspondence, however, from UPS to the IPA suggests that the company may have already decided the issue. "UPS's position on the issue is well documented. We believe that cargo and passenger carriers require different regulatory approaches to duty and rest," said UPS in a letter to the IPA.

The UPS letter was in response to "a formal request" to UPS CEO, Scott Davis from IPA President, Captain Robert Travis "that UPS voluntarily comply with the FAA's final pilot duty and rest rule."

Since issuing the new rule, while speaking at the Aero Club of Washington on January 31, Secretary LaHood has reiterated his position: "I have invited our friends from the cargo airlines to come to my office and talk about really looking at the rule that we have adopted and implementing it. We think it's important that they know what's in the rule and why it's important and hear it from us and not read about it in the paper. And I'm going to just ask them directly to be a part of it. I think they should be. It's safe. Look, if everybody in this room believes in safety, which we do and I know all of you do, I can't think of a reason why they wouldn't want to do it. But we'll find out."

The following is the text from today's letter to Secretary LaHood from the IPA:

February 29, 2012

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I understand that you will soon be meeting with UPS officials to discuss your desire that all-cargo operators, such as UPS, voluntarily comply, or "opt-in," to the FAA's new pilot duty and rest rules published in December.

On January 19, 2012, I copied you on a formal request made by our union, the Independent Pilots Association, addressed to UPS CEO and Chairman of the Board, Scott Davis. In the letter, I respectfully asked for UPS to "opt-in" to these critical new safety rules. I am again sending you that letter as an enclosure to this correspondence.

On January 31, speaking to the Aero Club of Washington, you stated that you would request a meeting with all-cargo operators and "just
ask them directly to be part of it [the new rules]." You went on to say, "I think they should be. It's safe." You added, "Look, if everybody in this room believes in safety, which we do and I know all of you do, I can't think of a reason why they wouldn't want to do it. But we'll find out."

I applaud your initiative in seeking voluntary compliance from the all-cargo industry. We agree that legitimate reasons do not exist for these carriers to operate outside of the new science-based pilot duty and rest rules.

You should know that UPS has indicated, at least to me, their intent to refuse to voluntarily "opt-in" to the new rules.

On February 7, 2012, UPS VP of Flight Operations hand delivered to me UPS's response to my January 19 request for voluntary compliance (see UPS letter dated January 31, 2012, enclosed). You were not copied to that response. The letter itself is vague, and does not directly state that UPS will refuse voluntary compliance, instead stating that "UPS's position on the issue is well documented." The UPS VP of Flight Operations verbally stated that his letter should be taken as a "no" on the subject.

Mr. Secretary, the purpose of this letter is to simply request that you apply to this issue the full powers of persuasion of your office. Our membership is comprised of the 2,600 plus UPS pilots flying heavy jets for our company throughout our country and around the world every day. Each month, UPS pilots conduct more than 10,000 aircraft take-offs and landings over our towns and cities, flying in the same congested airspace as passenger aircraft.

As Secretary, working with Acting Administrator Huerta, you have taken a critical step forward in publishing hours of service rules that, following decades of study and delay, now finally promise to apply science-based fatigue rules to aviation.

This great success, however, is incomplete and will carry a stain and potentially plant the seeds of future tragedy unless you succeed in
your endeavor to persuade all-cargo operators like UPS to voluntarily embrace the new rules. I stand ready to work with you and with UPS to implement these new rules on schedule.

I remain available to work with UPS directly or by utilizing your good offices. Thank you for your consideration.

Captain Robert W. Travis
President, Independent Pilots Association

SOURCE Independent Pilots Association