Policy Perspectives

Policy Perspectives

FedEx Cargo Pilots – Fatigue Mitigation Program

Cargo and passenger pilots have very different schedules and one size does not fit all when it comes to air travel safety.  Forcing cargo pilots to fly according to a set of rules developed for distinct conditions in a different industry will make them less safe.

Safety is our top priority. That’s why we oppose legislation mandating passenger-pilot scheduling limits for cargo pilots.


FedEx is the industry leader in fatigue mitigation

  • Safety is a top priority for FedEx. In cooperation with our pilots, FedEx has developed the best, most scientifically advanced fatigue mitigation program in the airline industry.
  • We have developed a comprehensive Fatigue Risk Mitigation program over years of experience operating at night and in complex international operations. In fact, FedEx has used the practice of varying flight schedules based on time of day for the past 20years, long before that practice became the cornerstone of the FAA’s new passenger rules.
  • FedEx will continue to implement forward thinking measures such as sleep rooms at our hub locations and science-based contractual work rules that promote adequate rest for our pilots.
  • As a failsafe protection to mitigate fatigue, any FedEx pilot who feels tired to the point of representing a potential safety risk can simply alert FedEx management to that fact, and a substitute pilot will be found for that flight. This is a practice that FedEx pilots use when they need it and mange with great professionalism.

One size does not fit all. Passenger and cargo airlines have different schedules.

  • Cargo pilots fly far fewer hours of actual cockpit time than passenger pilots (for example at FedEx, we average about 31 “block” hours per month compared with about 57 hours for passenger carriers).
  • Cargo pilots have longer average layovers between flights as a natural outcome of the way cargo flights must be scheduled. They also have more rest opportunities during working periods than passenger carriers.
  • The proposal would eliminate much of the flexibility that allows FedEx to provide our famously high services levels to American shippers and consumers of all kinds.

The proposal would impose scheduling limits that would make cargo carriers less safe.

  • For example the new rules limit a pilot to flying three consecutive nights. In our current U.S. operations, pilots can fly five nights in a row. Which allows many to start new trips only twice per month.
  • The first night of a new trip is the most challenging in terms of body clock adjustments. Additionally, pilots often commute hundreds of miles to their flight origination point. Under the proposed rules, these pilots would experience four or more first nights per month instead of two, with fewer days off to rest between flights.
  • That would be especially taxing on those who commute to their flight origination point from wherever they choose to live – a common practice in the pilot profession.

FAA recognized the importance of customized solutions, introducing the Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP)

  • Under the FRMP, airlines are required to submit comprehensive, customized plans for mitigating pilot fatigue to be approved by the FAA. This allows carriers to customize fatigue mitigation measures to their unique operations for the best possible alertness results.
  • The FAA has approved the FedEx FRMP which commits FedEx to implementing its customized, industry leading plan that in many ways goes beyond the regulations to combat potential pilot fatigue.
  • FedEx will continue to work with its pilots to continually improve fatigue mitigation programs.