Wondering about the definition of illegal in airline slang? Keep reading to learn the meaning of illegal, see some examples, and get a better understanding of this travel glossary term!
What Does “Illegal” Mean in Flight Slang?
In airline parlance, illegal refers to a working member of an aircraft, whether it be a pilot or flight attendant or other employee, who crosses over the maximum hours allowed to work per flight, day, or schedule without sleep or a break.
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In the United States, rest requirements are overseen by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
To combat flight attendant fatigue, for example, they’ve outlined their rules in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs):
The current regulations (§121.467 and §135.273) require that flight attendants receive a minimum rest period of nine consecutive hours following a scheduled duty period of 14 hours or less. This rest period may be reduced to eight hours if the subsequent rest period is at least 10 consecutive hours. Following a scheduled duty period of greater than 14 hours, but no more than 20 hours, a minimum rest period of 12 hours must be provided.
This may be reduced to 10 hours if the subsequent rest period is at least 14 consecutive hours. If the rest period is reduced to 10 hours, the flight attendant may not be scheduled for a duty period of greater than 14 hours during the 24-hour period commencing after the beginning of the reduced rest period. Flight attendants may not be scheduled for duty if they have not had at least the minimum rest requirement. Furthermore, flight attendants must be relieved from duty for at least 24 hours during any seven consecutive calendar days. A 14-hour duty period may be extended up to 20 hours if the carrier schedules additional flight attendant(s) to the minimum complement required.
One additional flight attendant is required above the minimum complement to extend the scheduled duty hours to 16 hours. If two additional flight attendants are scheduled, the duty hours may be extended to 18 hours; and if three additional flight attendants are scheduled, the duty hours may be extended to no more than 20 hours. For example, if the minimum flight attendant complement required for a B757-200 is four, and five flight attendants are scheduled for duty, the scheduled duty period may be extended to a maximum of 16 hours.
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