New FAA rules for pilots may delay travelers - WFLA News Channel 8

New FAA rules for pilots may delay travelers

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Snowbound airliners filled with frustrated passengers have been a common sight for the past week.  The Harris family of Oldsmar, returning to Tampa, got stuck at the Detroit airport. 

Related story:  Subzero 'polar vortex' pushes frigid air across US


Evan Harris suspected the winter weather, but found out, the pilots had "timed out" on their shifts for the day.  He blames Delta.

"They did not have enough pilots available, who have enough hours available, to be able to fly out in delayed conditions," said Harris.

Twice, the family made it onto the plane, and twice, returned to the terminal, where they ended up sleeping. 

The situation is the result of new FAA rules to combat pilot fatigue.  Pilots must have 10 hour of rest between shifts, with 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. They have to get 30 hours of rest per week, and flying time can't exceed 8 or 9 hours. 

Aviation consultant, Captain John Cox says years of study went into the new rules.

"When you're dealing with something,  a change this complex, it's not uncommon to have challenges in the first few days," said Captain Cox.

Cox points to 2013 as the safest year in aviation history.  He says the new rules should make it even safer.

"I think what we're seeing now is the natural outgrowth of the entire industry addressing a problem that we've acknowledged for many, many, many years," Cox said.

Renee Harris, after a long delay at the Detroit airport, says the airline should have known better. 

"People's lives were put on hold because the airlines did not prepare," said Renee Harris.

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