UPDATE 1-U.S. to address pilot fatigue in wake of deadly crash

Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:59pm EDT

* Rule-making would be needed for rest rules

* FAA seeks more transparency on pilot performance

* Big airlines will work with FAA on pilot training

(Adds Babbitt airline comment)

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. government will seek to toughen rest requirements for airline pilots with fatigue an issue in the crash of a commuter flight near Buffalo, New York, in February that killed 50 people.

Randy Babbitt, the Federal Aviation Administration administrator, told a group of industry and safety officials on Monday that action on flight and duty time would be part of a comprehensive response to the Colgan Air crash.

Colgan is a unit of Pinnacle Airlines Corp PNCL.O.

"We need to bring human factors into these rules," Babbitt later told reporters about steps the agency is taking to try to make pilot performance records more transparent and its longer range plans to enhance training and reduce fatigue.

Standards for flying hours and time spent on duty but not in the cockpit, have been in place for decades. But attempts by pilots and safety advocates to tighten them have fallen short.

Major U.S. airlines said in a statement on Monday through their trade group that they will work with the FAA to review pilot training, another issue in the Colgan crash.

Smaller regional carriers, like Pinnacle, said in a separate statement they support establishment of a database of pilot records to improve recruitment and hiring practices.

Pilot performance records, which can be hard to obtain when an airline is reviewing a job applicant, is also an issue for officials investigating the crash. (Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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