Federal regulations that would have limited cargo and charter plane pilots to a maximum workday of 13 hours and which were set to take effect on August 1, 2011, have been suspended indefinitely. According to the Wall Street Journal, freight and private air carriers object to the proposed rules for preventing pilot fatigue because “the changes would be expensive and eliminate necessary flexibility to transport commercial goods and even troops for the Pentagon.”

In this video, Capt. Sully Sullenberger discusses the difficulty pilots have doing their job of keeping passengers safe when they have not had enough rest:

The Federal Aviation Administration first proposed making all commercial pilots follow the same rules for hours of service and rest between flying shifts in 2010. Passenger plane pilots have long been restricted to no more than 13 hours on the clock and at least 9 hours between flights. The FAA was prompted to act more broadly after the U.S. Congress learned that pilot fatigue played a significant role in causing the 2009 Colgan Air crash outside of Buffalo, New York (NY), in which a total of 50 passengers and crew members died.

As a licensed pilot and Carolina personal injury attorney, I know how important it is to be as alert as possible at all times in the cockpit. Just as drowsy drivers cause tens of thousands of accidents with injuries and deaths on U.S. roads every year, pilots who may — or do — fall asleep while flying put themselves and others on their planes in grave danger. Even if requiring cargo and charter pilots to get more rest increases costs for air companies, I believe that money will represent a necessary investment in people’s safety.