Critics: Pilot Rules 'Not Enough'

Rules on pilot sleep meant to prevent tragedies like 2009 Colgan Air crash.
3:00 | 12/21/11

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Transcript for Critics: Pilot Rules 'Not Enough'
At the very top of the list of people in life we prefer stay as well rested as possible. Our pilots few appreciate just how hard they work or how far many of them commute. To get behind the sticking get you where you're going but a yearlong undercover Nightline probe. Found some sobering revelations that may give you pause -- next time you board. Tonight ABC's Brian Ross investigates Brian. Bill for many airline pilots the hardest part of the job is staying away the -- is the dirty little secret of the airline industry. Today the federal government announced new rules to deal with the issue. But many say they fall far short solving a problem exposed in an ABC news investigation earlier this year. Water. A night flight over Washington DC scenes in the cockpit of a jet airplane. It's no time for a pilot to be struggling to stay -- all too often that is the case. There's a code for. One pilot will reach over the other and saying -- -- Islamabad and we examine the overhead panels for a little while. It's the result of a system in which poorly paid pilots report to duty hundreds or thousands of miles from home have to scrounge at night for a place to sleep. Ending up -- secretive so called crash paths as seen in this ABC news under cover -- V. Stacks of bunk beds in a crowded house just blocks from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Or even worse spending the night in airline crew lounges as seen in these pictures taken by a pilot for ABC news raising the veil on the secret life of airline pilots a symptom. Of a very serious industrywide problem. It is the concern it matters. Our passengers deserve better. In 2009. Continental regional jet from -- -- operated by Colgan Air crashed on approach to buffalo killing fifty people. These -- the pilot. -- the first officer slipped in a bed the night before the flight they had committed to Newark from Florida and Washington State. -- could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder. We had a captain who had actually. An overnight being in the crew lounge. And Newark Airport. For two of the previous three nights today's new fatigue rules on the FAA are meant to prevent just such accidents. This new rule will afford pilots the opportunity. To get eight hours. Of uninterrupted sleep before a flight. The rules will also reduce the number of on duty hours for a pot but only from a maximum of sixteen hours a day to fourteen hours. I -- very distressed that these new rules because they did not go for -- often in fact they bear the earmarks of an industry that's been whining about money. And not paying attention know enough safety. And we needed more teeth and these rules. And many including the National Transportation Safety Board say the new rules fall substantially short of dealing with the problems of commuting plans. Younger less well paid pilots and up sleeping in -- crash fans. It was never. Really good -- former continental express pilot just thirty says he was one of those pilots forced to sleep -- crash pads when he commuted from Florida for flights based out of Newark Airport. You have people coming in and out at all hours of the night might happen to have a -- me it's more. Louder than anyone I've ever heard in my life dirty says -- the airlines provide hotel rooms during the middle of an actual trip is tonight before the start of the trip. When commuter pilots are scrambling. For a place to -- There are aware of what's going on and I think they just sort of say. You know figure -- out. And many opponents can't even afford the 25 dollars a night for a crash -- So they end up behind the locked doors of the airport where the public can see them spending the night in the airline's crew lounges. Critics say the new FAA rules will not solve this problem. That danger is still there -- new rules do not stop the danger of commuting pilots. The FAA says the new rules require the airlines to recognize the problem of commuters but puts the responsibility. On the pilots to certify. That they are fit for Judy. And if a pilot reports that he or she is 58 in the airline must remove the pilot from duty. But former commuting pilots including -- heard him say that won't work because pilots may be punished by -- airlines if they try to report their fatigue. Without actual protection by the FAA in the rules. For -- to -- on the team -- -- that -- balance across the country. All of this is deeply disturbing to the families of the fifty people who died in the continental express flight 34 -- -- Some -- in the audience today as the FAA announced its new rules. As a family group we were not please -- -- commuting was not part of this. At all because commuting did play a significant role in the crash of flight thirty for -- seven. In fact the National Transportation Safety Board is adding its own concern tonight telling ABC news it was disappointed. -- the FAA is final rules on the issue and see it as an ongoing unresolved concern.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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