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Crash spurs focus on pilot flight time

The crash of a commuter plane in northeast Missouri last week — killing 13 of the 15 people on board, including a Utah County man — has focused new attention on the length of time pilots are allowed to work on a given day.

The Corporate Airlines plane crashed Oct. 19 on a flight from St. Louis to Kirksville. It was the sixth flight of the day for the pilots, who died in the crash.

The only survivors were Dr. John Krogh, Wallsburg, and Wendy Bonham, Spanish Fork. Another Utah man, Dr. Clark Ator, Alpine, died.

The two pilots had been on duty for 14 hours and 41 minutes, which is within Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, at the time of the crash.

The cause remains under investigation, and there has been no indication pilot fatigue played a role. But Corporate Airlines pilots have been talking for months about joining a union, partly because of concern over long hours..

FAA regulations now allow 16 hours of flight duty for pilots, although some airlines have shorter limits set in bargaining agreements. In 1995, the FAA proposed dropping the maximum time of continuous duty to 14 hours, but no change has been made.

Three years ago, an FAA study found that a tired pilot is two to four times more likely to have an accident. FAA officials said the restrictions were unchanged because no one could agree on the proposals.