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Continental Wants Its Pilots to Work Harder, Fly Righter

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If you're flying Continental to Mumbai in the near future, you might want to pay close attention to how rested the pilot is. Are her eyes bloodshot, or are the lids propped up with toothpicks? Or is she perhaps knocking back little pills with gallons of coffee?

Well, the FAA seems a bit worried that crews on flights greater than 16 hours aren't getting the rest they need to fly safely, which is why last October the agency issued new rules for crews on such long flights. As a Christmas gift, Continental and other airlines filed suit on Christmas Eve in federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., saying the FAA circumvented the "rulemaking" and "public comment" processes in issuing the orders.

A Continental lawyer wouldn't comment to Hair Balls, but he provided a copy of the airline's suit, which claims the FAA has "deprived stakeholders with expertise on the underlying safety issues, the opportunity to participate in a public comment process. Only by this process can there be assurance that such issues have been fully identified, carefully considered and logically resolved...."

Also joining the suit are JetBlue, United, US Airways, and something called Evergreen International Airlines, which Hair Balls has never before flown on or heard of. Delta's absence from the suit is explained in today's Wall Street Journal: the airline apparently hammered out an agreement with the FAA in 2006. (What? Working with the FAA sometimes pays off? Who would've thunk?)

Hair Balls will be keeping an eye on this lawsuit. In the meantime, you might want to invest in a decent parachute...

-- Craig Malisow

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