View Full Version : Over-tired pilots 'falling asleep on duty'; BALPA Survey
Ye Olde Pilot
23rd Feb 2012, 00:13
BBC News - Over-tired pilots 'falling asleep on duty' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17127962)
Over-tired pilots who fall asleep on duty are putting passenger safety at risk, MPs have been told.
Rob Hunter of the British Airline Pilots' Association said fatigue levels should be measured before flights to help alleviate the problem.
But "intense" competition by airlines to raise profits made this less likely, the transport committee heard.
Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said overall safety would improve as a result of changes to be made soon.
The committee is looking at the number of hours flight crews should be working.
The MPs heard that 43% of pilots said they had fallen asleep in the cockpit, based on a survey of 500 members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BAPA).
Mr Hunter, the union's head of safety, said this was likely to lead to more accidents and that more should be done to gauge the problem.
He told the committee: "We need an appropriate reporting procedure. People fear that if they report fatigue they will be subject to a disciplinary process. Their concern is that they will be effectively writing the evidence for their own prosecution...
"We commonly receive letters that deal with cases where pilots feel that the process that they then get embroiled in is more fatiguing that the duty itself. It becomes a better option to put up with a bit of fatigue rather then report it."
The committee heard that, where there were only two pilots on a flight, they both had to remain on duty for the duration of the journey.
Mr Hunter said: "Sometimes airlines endorse a napping policy, where each pilot has a sleep... It can be effective...(but) one pilot who is (meant to be) awake can fall asleep."
But airlines often did not prioritise the issue of fatigue, he said, telling MPs: "They are very survival-driven. It's intensively competitive... as consumers and passengers we get a sense of the intense competitiveness in the airline industry."
During the hearing there was dispute over how easy it was to measure the level of fatigue among pilots.
Mr Hunter said the scientific method was reliable but added that airlines were "really quite woolly" in their implementation.
Representatives of carriers said this was not the case.
Tim Price, the regulation manager for flight operations at British Airways, said any measurement also did not take into account the activities of pilots in their spare time on their level of fatigue.
The UK system of dealing with fatigue - setting out hours to be worked, and the length of breaks in between - is to be replaced with a European-wide system.
Critics argue this will lead to a "levelling-down" of standards, but supporters say it means UK citizens who use flights operated by companies based elsewhere in the EU will get better safety.
Ms Villiers said moving to a Europe-wide system of safety regulation "would undoubtedly bring up the standards to a broadly equivalent level to that in the UK".
She added: "That will be a significant gain for British passengers when they get on planes."
23rd Feb 2012, 09:18
I really would have to get out of aviation if this happened. Last Summer I had to report sick for duty a couple of times as I was so dog tired. Starting on an early.... min rest ...driving home as the sun was coming up from a deep night ..minimum rest again...then last day finish on a late. In bed with the sun coming through the curtains and the world going about its noisy business....no chance of a sleep. Lots of guys I know use melatonin but now can't seem to sleep without it! Really not looking forward to this season as it is :sad:
23rd Feb 2012, 09:53
300 - 600 All of us face this problem in some form or another ....unfortunately some put the guy in the other seat in a bad position by not reporting sick when they are genuinely fatigued.
Just pulled this out of the Middle East thread... might be worth a look.
"All the best to my ex BA Connect / BRAL buddies out there .... another reunion due soon methinks . On topic after my pilots free flight Atlas "best bang for the buck" in my aviation career.... perfect for stop overs in daylight as well as on the aircraft or at home next to the snoring wife. Its a patented product which has double noise reduction (34 dBs on the plugs plus unspecified reduction on the covers/ plug retainers) . The mask cuts out light better than any mask I've ever used. They imply you can reuse it for life ...the reality is I have used mine almost every work day/ night for almost six months and continuously wiping it down eventually meant I had to buy another. Also the ear plugs dont even last that long but you can buy them separately for peanuts.
23rd Feb 2012, 13:08
Speaking as an ignorant MOP, surely on a loooong flight, on autopilot, when nothing has to be done and you have audible alarms for any problems then this is not a big issue. If it is a bit of a problem then I would think perhaps more (or regular) alarms for routine checks would be a cheap and simple solution. There may be things that need doing/checking on such flights that I am not aware of but then I doubt either pilot would have nodded off anyway if that were the case.
23rd Feb 2012, 13:29
I have seen pilots falling asleep on final approach in manual flight on their fourth consecutive early 5 sector day. Not really boring enroute environment and yet they still couldn't stay awake.
23rd Feb 2012, 13:49
JWP, I hope you're joking.
23rd Feb 2012, 14:20
JWP, All due respect.....
Get up at 3am, go and get a dining room chair and sit in it for 12 hours. Then go and get 12 hours rest.
Do this 5 days in a row. Then come back and tell us it’s “not a big issue.” :hmm:
23rd Feb 2012, 14:24
That's just the thing, Set.
He seems to think it's no big deal if you sleep during the flight.
The autopilot is doing all the work anyway! :ugh:
23rd Feb 2012, 14:35
Do aviation authorities disallow modafinil?
23rd Feb 2012, 14:58
Not from what I can see Poorjohn. There appear to be quite a few studies on the effects of Modafinil on military pilots, the results were generally very positive, so I can only assume that these findings are applied to Civil Aviation as well (please tell me if I'm wrong, I'm curious myself). Check the link below, its an abstract from a 2004 USAF study on F117 pilots after 37 hours sleep deprivation. The associated reading is quite cool, must have been a fun test.
Modafinil's effects on simulator per... [Aviat Space Environ Med. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15460629)
23rd Feb 2012, 15:02
JWP, I hope you're joking.
Leave him alone, he's old and used to work for a bank - say no more :eek:
23rd Feb 2012, 16:04
Mr Rob Hunter of BALPA?
No - he's a medical Dr.
23rd Feb 2012, 16:42
Over-tired pilots who fall asleep on duty are putting passenger safety at risk, MPs have been told.
MPs had to be told that? :\
23rd Feb 2012, 17:00
AdamF, imo anyone who operates dangerous machinery (e.g. an airplane) and has even the slightest chance of nodding off owes it to themselves, their loved ones, and the unwashed bunch in the back to have the stuff available.
I didn't go off and read the AvWeek article so don't know what it doesn't cover, but if it didn't refer to the stuff as "viagra for the brain" I can toss that in - it works when you want it to and makes it easy to remain attentive, but you also can take it and hop in the sack and sleep well if that opportunity presents itself. That makes it a lot more 'user friendly' than the amphetamines.
In most places it's not dispensed without your doctor's script, and if I were flying commercially I'd make sure to get that from my flight physician. In the U.S. and a few other places it's a controlled substance, albeit in the second-lowest category. In places where it still enjoys patent protection (e.g. the U.S.) your doctor probably has been given free samples to share with likely candidates. (And in such places you'll be disappointed when the pharmacist hands you the bill - probably over US15 per each. Our northern neighbor is friendlier.)
No doubt the stuff can be abused by trying to go days without sleep. I mention it here because the problem being discussed is caused externally - I have great faith that no-one, having discovered that they can be attentive when they need to, will put in a few extra hours at his second job and try running on no sleep. It doesn't make superheros and imo starts becoming less effective (in normal doses, at least) after 24 hours or so. Also a friendly reminder that sharing prescription medicine with someone else is a crime in some places, and particularly if the med is a 'controlled' substance might be a felony. i.e. know the rules and play by them. Apologies if anyone takes offense at that.
Safe flight to all.
Modafinil sounds cool, flying under the influence of drugs.... may be we have to amend the ANO.
Pop a pill to sleep, pop another one to fly, repeat until retirement. All for the balance sheet, sorry, consumer's safety of cause.
23rd Feb 2012, 17:05
The trouble with all of this is that we have colleagues who do not play the game.
For example, the CAA used to allow a 1 hour 30 minute commute from home to starting duty.
How many colleagues have you flown with who have driven up from Cornwall or who have commuted into the duty from France? (Read the Colgan report).
How many colleagues have you flown with who have spent half of their rest period on the golf course?
They are the ones who are letting all of us down. In the eyes of the management, we don't have a case for these individuals have proved time and time again that they can commute for four hours and spend half of their layover time playing golf and still get into LHR on time from a CAT III approach.
If we could stop this sort of rubbish going on then the rest of us might stand a slight chance of being taken seriously by the public and the authorities.
I have said it before but I will say it again, I had an F/O fall asleep in the middle of an SID when he was PF.
I had an F/O who made the SOP call at the Outer Marker but failed to respond to the 500 foot (incapacitation call) for he was asleep on short final.
In both cases I suspected that they had not spent their off-duty time wisely.
In short, if we don't get our act together and put ourselves above criticism then we shall never be taken seriously.
23rd Feb 2012, 17:29
Apologies not necessary PJ. No one should be offended by common sense. It is quite strictly controlled in my neck of the woods, I would like to see my av med's face if I asked him for a prescription. Kind of looks as though you may have answered your own question.
23rd Feb 2012, 17:54
As a matter of interest, I spent 16 years in Transport Command and 24 hour duties were not unknown.
In fact, on the Belfast, we could do 42 hours with a double crew (we had a 6-bunk bedroom downstairs).
In those days, the RAF aviation medics were pushing Mogadon.
I never tried one for I was a great believer in getting the cr*p out of the way and then getting into the nearest bar when it was over.
Does Mogadon still exist and is it approved?
Half the rest time on the golf course? Six hours?!? You can't be that bad at golf, even as a pilot!
23rd Feb 2012, 18:15
I do not play golf.
23rd Feb 2012, 18:24
Bit disappointed with the replies to my post. In the first place SetStandard obviously completely misunderstood me. In the case of other responses, yes, I'm old and did work for a bank for a short while (amongst other things) but that doesn't make me totally stupid or unwilling to learn. I explained that I was a fairly ignorant MOP rather than a fully trained pilot and was asking why, during a long period of auto pilot ...IF.... there was nothing to do for a long time, it would be a problem for a pilot to take a short nap given the many audible warnings available (and could be made more available) should there be a problem. We are told how modern airliners have every safety feature available and it would be worrying if we thought that, despite these features, it needs a pilot to monitor every single second of a flight. It would be nice to be given a reasonable answer rather than insults.
23rd Feb 2012, 19:24
We are told how modern airliners have every safety feature available and it would be worrying if we thought that, despite these features, it needs a pilot to monitor every single second of a flight
Well I know what some manufacturers claim and some journalists think but yes, somebody does need to be on watch, all the time. Here's one easy example of why: an autopilot won't ring bells to warn you about is a thunderstorm and it certainly won't avoid it.
In addition there's are a whole host of smaller problems that could develop very quickly into big problems if prompt action isn't taken by a pilot, from conflict/potential collision with another aircraft, engine failure, turbulence...........
In short you do need at least one pilot on watch every second maybe not staring steely eyed at the instruments and grasping the controls, but he/she certainly needs to be awake and aware - the days of HAL doing the driving whilst all the crew can legally doze off are still a long way off. I don't find that worrying at all.
23rd Feb 2012, 19:28
No, I don't worry. Thanks for a very nice and informative reply. I'll go back to my sulk now. :E
23rd Feb 2012, 19:59
There are so many variables that are not apparent to anyone not involved in Commercial Aviation.
There are significant differences between Long, Medium & short haul. As there are between single & multi sector duties.
While it may be difficult to obtain the necessary permissions for a MoP to occupy a flightdeck jumpseat it is the best possible way for you to gain a realistic perspective of the issues involved. Ideally you'd follow a crew through a typical week. But I doubt such a time consuming commitment is possible.
So without witnessing the problems for yourself who can you trust to inform you without prejudice?
23rd Feb 2012, 20:11
Agree with Denti, I have been that man. . but twas 5 days 4 sectors, not 4 days 5 sectors. . or was I too tired to notice the difference :zzz:
23rd Feb 2012, 20:28
For all EU AOC holders and their pilots ,EU Ops is the law .
So on a Fitness To Fly ,EU OPs 1.085 (d) makes good reading both on the issue of alcohol,meds (OTC & Prescription) but most important Fatigue .
crew member shall not perform duties on an aeroplane:
while under the influence of any drug that may affect his/her faculties in a manner contrary to safety;
following deep sea diving except when a reasonable time period has elapsed;
following blood donation except when a reasonable time period has elapsed;
if applicable medical requirements are not fulfilled, or if he/she is in any doubt of being able to accomplish his/her assigned duties; or
if he/she knows or suspects that he/she is suffering from fatigue, or feels unfit to the extent that the flight may be endangered.
1.420 Occurence Reporting
Incident reporting. An operator shall establish procedures for reporting incidents taking into account responsibilities described below and circumstances described in subparagraph (d) below.
1. OPS 1.085(b) specifies the responsibilities of crew members for reporting incidents that endangers, or could endanger, the safety of operation.
So under both the SMS and EU OPs both the Operator and Individual pilot are mutually responsible ,so tinkering with your tachograph or improving your handicap be it at the planning or operational stage will be patently obvious when the NAA or AAIU come a calling .
"MUM/DAD why are we not able to go on holiday any more! "
"Because HE/SHE lost their Job/licence !"
Personally ,I believe that being forwarned should be sufficient ,although if you work with a LCC or non -unionised operational environment ,my best wished are with you .
The problem is the Flight Duty Regulations and amendments to increase them are made by mindless twits who work sit in offices between 9am and 5pm, dont work nights or weekends and spend a lot of time walking from their desk to the coffee room, to their mates desk.
They have never flown countless longhaul flights throughout the night, sleeping in the lowering standard, noisy, cold (aircon cant be controlled) hotel rooms or 5-6 sector days as mentioned.
Yet these twits who have barely done a days work in their life, tell us we are protected from the over rostering of the present lower standard, Maximum productivity/ maximum yearly hours, average airline of today.
23rd Feb 2012, 22:07
LOL, what a theme. for the very few here who earn their money sitting in the cockpit its abvious and not a discussion worth that a short nap is a nice thing on longer flights ,especially at night- surely not on short final, but at cruise when the other guy is awake .
the gents in this thread who are disgusted make clear that they never had to live from earning money by commercial flying and so never had an inside view how pilots life really looks like. you will not find this in regulations, you will not find this in simulation flying or just being an aviation fan.
23rd Feb 2012, 23:28
Quite different topic though. JWP1938 was obviously of the opinion since the autopilot does it all both pilots could sleep all through cruise to be refreshed for landing. A real sleep is something different to napping. Napping was originally developed for a three man flight deck and is nowadays used as a bandaid on two man flight decks. There is a procedure to be followed and there are time limits for the rest, recovery period and distance to TOC as well as required calls from behind every couple minutes.
And then there is uncontrolled rest or sleep during flight which is a reality, doesn't care about any procedures, time limits or anything else. Usually caused by cumulative fatigue which is the real topic here. However sleeping isn't the only thing that can happen if you're fatigued. Fatigue impairs the immune system, leads to breakdown of any normal sleeping patterns and causes a breakdown in airmanship and decision making. It is something one can experience very easily if rostered to the limits of EU-OPS. We had that the last two summers and as a result at the end of the summer period sickness levels rose to 25% of the pilot force (the company doesn't accept fatigue, it is sickness in their eyes), crews were falling asleep randomly and there were some very close brushes with serious incidents, thank god nothing big ever happened, but a lot almost did.
24th Feb 2012, 03:59
General Strike. You Brits, well, Europeans in general, seem to pull that kind of thing off very well. I wish we had that level of labor (excuse me, labour ;-) ) solidarity in the US!
24th Feb 2012, 07:07
Get up at 3am, go and get a dining room chair and sit in it for 12 hours.
better still, have the chair placed in the cupboard under the stairs, with no light other than maybe a 15 watt bulb, have the kids beat on the door every now and again, and run up and down the stairs, and the wife throw in a couple of meals on trays ( preferably chicken ).
Then get out and drive around the M-25 for awhile before going to bed, get up at dusk and do it all again - as was suggested - for a few days.
I was driving home from such a real life - not simulated - flying duty when I heard the BBC announce the sad news of the Vanguard crash in Basle, and the M.D. ( CEO's hadn't been invented then ) of the airline was asked if fatigue could have been a problem ? Not at all, was the reply (and of course it might not have been) because the aircraft didn't take off from Bristol until 08.30.
WTF had that got to do with it ? I was so incensed I drove straight around to my local M.P.'s home - he lived near me - and expressed my discontent, and explained that ... the aircraft had departed from Manston, and stopped at Hurn before arriving at Bristol to embark the members of the Womens' Institute on their chartered day out.
Do your own maths. What time did the a/c arr. at Bristol ? What time did it depart Hurn ? What time did it arr. Hurn ? what time did it depart Manston ?
What time did the crew report for duty at Manston ? What time did the crew get out of bed ? What time did they go to bed ? What had they done the day before by way of flying duties ?
WTF did a departure from Bristol have to do with no fatigue involved just because it was at 08.30 ? Totally irrelevant, and yet it gave the impression to the Great Unwashed that the managements' scheduling and rest policies had nothing to do with the accident. I accept that it might not, and yes, I have read the accident report, I'm making a point that non-pilots have absolutely no idea of how accumulative fatigue can affect flight safety.
M.P.s need to understand what real people do - I made sure mine did.
Not my problem anymore ( I wish I had a job, at least I'd get one day off a week !! ) - except that I might now be your passenger !
Best of luck chaps.
Your faith in autopilots whilst pilots sleep is staggering, ( and ignorant ) you must have heard the old story of the first fully automatic pilotless flight, where just before take off the passenger address system announces .... Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard this fully automatic flight, where nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go... ?
24th Feb 2012, 18:39
OK I give up. That's at least 3 or 4 of you who has completely misunderstood my post and I will bow out leaving you to think that I am suggesting pilots could sleep through cruise with no problems. I have already received an informative post via PM which has given me the answer I was seeking. My belief in the in the high intelligence and understanding of the flying community has gone down a couple of points. (I already know that a great number of you can't spell - particularly the pilots :E). I will have no more to say in this thread.
25th Feb 2012, 01:46
Don't worry JWP, your question wasn't that daft. In fact, when I worked for a well know long haul airline in the UK, the management said it was OK for one of the pilots to "cat nap" when our schedules changed for the worst and we started to work longer hours. The theory was that with one pilot asleep and the other "on watch" safety wouldn't be compromised. The reality was that at 3am in the dark while suffering from acute and cumulative fatigue and now not having the stimulus of the other pilot,the watch keeper was also very likely to have fallen asleep. The aircraft would require a pilot input every 20 minutes otherwise alarms would go off. I was woken by this on several occasions! Although many systems failures have alarms, some situations such as a storm cloud have none. (I often wonder if this was a factor in the Air France Atlantic A330 crash).
My reply to the management regardin "catnapping" was that I had been observing my cat and have come to the conclusion that it meant sleeping for 20 hours out of 24 on top of the central heating boiler, waking up occasionally for a stretch, some food and a pooh! I could cope with that.
25th Feb 2012, 01:54
As for the use of drugs, again there are serious limitations. Military pilots will use there very infrequently on operations and not continuously for regular schedules. I had used them when I was military pilot and I found I was rapidly becoming addicted to the drug we were issued. I stopped and refused to take it once I realised this was happening.
25th Feb 2012, 09:04
If anybody's interested, the parliament evidence that the BBC piece talks about is here:
House of Commons - Transport Committee - Written Evidence (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmtran/writev/ftl/contents.htm)
Right Way Up
25th Feb 2012, 09:27
JWPs was a reasonable question but perhaps AF447 will put into context the practicality of "switching off" for a rest during the "quiet" cruise phase. Their problem started at 02:10'05 when the autopilot disengaged and less than 5 mins later at approx 02:14'28 the aircraft crashed.
I will only nap if the alternative is I will fall asleep anyway. This method should not be used procedurally.
25th Feb 2012, 19:00
Dan Winterland, my compliments for the best humor I've seen on this forum (re cat-napping).
Re addiction, the one I mentioned up-thread almost certainly has no such issue, fwiw. The biggest danger will be counting on them and further depriving yourself of sleep to get the car fixed or play that round of golf. Ideally you'd have one on hand for a time of need. Same wish for my young-20's son - have one in the glovebox, "break glass in case of emergency". His flying adventures are just beginning, and no doubt he frightens himself and his instructor enough such that nodding off isn't an issue.
(Lest anyone worry that I'm plumping for the company that makes the stuff, rest assured. I abhor their anti-competitive business practices and do suggest that you seek out generics (after accepting their free samples, of course.)
In Canada, the Air regs (CARS) provide for "Controlled Rest on the Flight Deck" - the applicable standards are found at CARS 720.23 Part VII - Commercial Air Services - Transport Canada (http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/regserv/cars/part7-standards-720-2153.htm)
I have used such techniques on both domestic and long-haul operations when needed by a crew member for whatever reason. About twenty minutes sleep is about all that is required. Anything longer than around 45 minutes is to be avoided because it takes one into REM sleep, (so our training stated), and sleep inertia then becomes a problem.
Any resting crew member (whether in the bunk, the cabin or doing controlled rest on the flight deck), should be wakened at least 30 minutes before top-of-descent.
The key understanding regarding fatigue is that when the brain/body needs sleep it will take it regardless of circumstances or the "requirement" to remain alert. Machinbird describes such phenomenon quite well in the Air India Express accident thread.
The Canadian Air Regs permit a crew member to be on duty for 20 hours providing there is an Augment Pilot, and a SAE-standard bunk available for prone rest. The duty day may be extended to 23 hours in "unforeseen circumstances".
Such duty days as permitted are unsafe in two-pilot transport flying. Both the ATA and the airlines themselves consistently resist recognition of fatigue. One CEO called crew augmentation, "union feather-bedding".
Pilot associations have long been spending their (increasingly-limited) negotiating dollars on realistic and safe duty day contractual (meaning without legal force) limitations. Bus and truck drivers receive greater support from the regulator than airline pilots.
26th Feb 2012, 07:56
Trouble with flying is also the fact that the environment is not like sitting in an office chair on the ground for 12+ hrs.
The cabin height is circa 7000 ft. The humidity is only about 20% and the continuouse noise even with noise cxd headsets is always there. The human body is working hard to cope with the environment. Now do that for a few days with reduced rest times & finally on the final day do one of those stand by flight scenarios of 22 hrs. Do you really want your wife & kids lives in the hands of that pilot doing 160 miles per hour judging the aircraft touch down to within a few ft some 30 ft away in limited visibility or gusty wind.
Am amazed anyone thinks it is safe.:confused:
You'd be amazed at the silly mistakes that can be made when you are tired. "They" say that being fatigued is the same as being slightly drunk.
It would be so easy to turn the wrong way in a procedure and your oppo in the other seat being tired too might not pick it up.
Being tired effects your judgement too. Make a rushed approach and try to land off it as your decision making abilities are impaired and you have an Air India Express on your hands!
Tiredness is a killer.
I am glad that you made your post as it allows us to explain why tiredness is an issue.
26th Feb 2012, 21:07
1. The MP for York asked about Flight Inspection FTLs:
Capt Tim Price of BA is suddenly an expert on Calibration Flying!
He stated that Fatigue is not an issue for Calibration Pilots because they fly on auto pilot!
What a load of twaddle!
The B200 AP was never good enough for CAT3 ILS testing down to 50 feet at 180KIAS down the runway.
In fact Approach proceedures, SIDS, STARS, ILS 8 deg L&R, Above and Below path, NDBs, VORs, Radar etc are "MoT'd"/ tested often during disruptive periods (midnight to 7 am) to an incredible laser checked accuracy. Normal Ops don't work due to traffic density and call out occur year round eg: LHR Christmas, Azores in new year etc....
2. CHIRP was mentioned by CAA Chief Exec Andrew Haines but no memtion wa made of the latest issue (101) which states LoCo Flexi Crews are scared to mention they are fatigued!
3rd Mar 2012, 11:31
Why, oh why, do we have to keep reinventing the wheel?
According to my father, lots of research into the effects of fatigue was done by the late Hugh Ruffel-Smith who was an AME at Farnborough I believe. I do not have access to the Belgrano to check in the library but did find some info a while ago but correct me if I am wrong on the following:
One of the things he did was to follow what was then BEA and BOAC crews around on flights following their rosters and the operation itself. I believe he initially proposed a point system which took into account even things like the number of RT calls and of course the obvious stuff like the number of sectors, time of day/night etc. I am assuming that CAP 371 is in a large part based on his research and it would be interesting to know if anyone knows if this assumption is correct?
He also did work with NASA monitoring performance of crews in simulators after they had been deliberately fatigued and measured the impairment in their performance.
Most of us now know that 24 hours without sleep is the same as a couple of pints in terms of our ability to judge and operate machinery, cars and dare I say it, an aircraft.
It is well documented what can lead to cumulative fatigue, where even if you have not actually been awake for 24 hours the effect is the same or worse. I can remember one summer flying charter with loads of roster changes, where I was standing in my kitchen early evening and people were talking to me and I realized I had not got a clue what was going. A few years later the company introduced blocked rosters which meant virtually no changes to one's published roster. I was shocked to find when I filled out my logbook one month, that I had done 98 hours in a month yet I did not feel tired. Having a stable roster allowed me to at least plan my life and my rest.
My current company supposedly operates to CAP371. We supposedly have an FRMS system in place. However, we do not have blocked rosters and roster changes are frequent. It says in CAP 371 that "rest periods between 18 and 36 hours should be avoided", yet this is the most common rest period. I believe partly as s result of this a lot of my colleagues are exhausted.
It seems the gist of the EASA proposals are if a company has rosters that are "green lighted" by the companies own FRMS that has been "green lighted" by EASA, then no further intervention is required by legislation or rules by EASA. If we did not have legislation, we would still have kids down coal mines and allowing a company to operate rosters in accordance with its own FRMS is to my mind a bit like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep! Honorable MOP please note!
We already knew what would lead to fatigue 40 odd years ago and it did not take new research by some Aussie company or similar to work it out (though if my company buys the AIMS "add on" provided by this company that will hopefully be a good thing but it is a "but"!)
CAP 371 was written some time ago and set out limits which we all know became targets for the company’s rosterers. This was before the advent of the LCCs and the increases in general of traffic. If anything, we should be reducing the limits in CAP 371 and not be allowing EASA to increase them.
PS Love the BALPA video.
Mr Angry from Purley
4th Mar 2012, 12:24
18-30hr rest - indeed hence the view that EASA FTL might improve things as no such limits so airlines dont have to switch away from early / lates / nights to avoid the "rules". Science also supports staying in the early/late/night patterns.
Any "green light" FRMS would include heavy crew involvement / input and regulatory guideance and supervision. :\
5th Mar 2012, 06:18
We may get the luxury or more to the point the open mindedness and forward thinking of a company to heavily involve the crew in Europe but I think it highly unlikely that companies in other regions who currently run CAP 371 and who seem to manage by fear, would even tolerate "heavy crew involvement"! I heard a rumour that one CEO was quoted as saying "I don't tell you how to fly an airplane, don't tell me how to run an airline"! Clearly if true, heavy involvement will be possible there! := Yeah right! Like I said, I think we are handing the sheep costume to the wolf.
In terms of open mindedness and forward thinking, I think it took a lot at what was Britannia when they introduced day off payments and blocked rosters; how can giving pilots more money save us money and how can giving them stable blocked rosters help towards flexibility when there is disruption?
To which the answer was that instead of taking pilot B off a flight to cover Pilot A who was sick or out of FDP and then using pilot C to cover Pilot B etc etc, call Pilot Z, offer him a day off payment to do Pilot A's flight. Job done. Rest of the program stayed stable. I seem to remember a figure along the lines of in the first year it cost them several hundred thousand pounds in day off payments but they saved about four million in program stability. Every roster change had a about 130 associated roster changes which all ended with forward thinking.
Whilst I have digressed somewhat, it will take a forward thinking company to operate without imposed FTLs who can see that running crews into the ground does not necessarily save money. Sickness spreads more easily as as had been mentioned, peoples immune systems go down etc. And of course the occasional hole in the ground is bad for business.
Mind you, on the plus side, if a company is running its own FTL based on its own FRMS as opposed to legislative FTLs, and there is a fatigue related hole in the ground it would maybe make a company more nervous about being in charge and responsible for FTLs and prefer the Legislative ones so they can blame the government!
In short, is/are the proposals by EASA a good thing?
OK it wasn't short! Just too knackered to get out of bed and do something useful like play a round! Purr purr!
Why, oh why, do we have to keep reinventing the wheel?
That is Europe for you!!!
5th Mar 2012, 07:39
I was extremely tired most of the time I spent in the UK with a LCC and I know it will cost lives in the future but they need money from one of the few sources of revenue left.Give the LCC anything they want,tax the punters to death,take away existing pilots licences and make them do the tests again, it goes on.The UK is just a third world country with desperate government and what appears a good system in the CAA but the illusion is fading.Why not print some more money that will work?
5th Mar 2012, 10:55
Was the 42 hour Belfast duty consumed between Brize and Akrotiri?
No; Brize and Luqa. Akrotiri could not be contemplated in 42 hours unless the winds were extremely favourable.