Limits on pilot hours could add to delays when next big storm hits

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New federal rules that effectively limit the hours that pilots can fly could add to delays and flight cancellations the next time a big storm hits as airlines adjust to the complex regulations aimed at combating pilot fatigue.

Those rules, which went into effect earlier this month, were blamed by some airlines for increasing the number of cancellations following the recent nor’easter that left some passengers at Logan International Airport stranded for a week. JetBlue Airways, for example, said it took the unusual step of cancelling all Logan flights between the evening of Jan. 6 and afternoon of Jan. 7 in part to rest crews and comply with the new regulations.

Passengers could face similar problems in the near future as airlines try to figure out how best to staff, schedule, and supplement flight crews during bad weather, said Bill Swelbar, an analyst at MIT’s global airline industry program.

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