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Middle East Many expats still flying in Knoteetingham. Regional issues can be discussed here.

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Old 13th Dec 2016, 13:38   #1 (permalink)
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Hey guys,

I'm a broadcast journalist with the BBC. I'm really keen to speak with/ hear from pilots in the Middle East, specifically, regarding your experiences with FTL's, rosters and fatigue.

Obviously if you speak with me it will be under complete anonymity.

My email address is: orla.o'[email protected]


Orla O’Brien
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 15:10   #2 (permalink)

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Unfortunately 99% of the people on here just like to cry and moan but don't have the balls to actually do anything about it. Let the complaining begin....
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 17:56   #3 (permalink)
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I see another journalist looking for a story and a source. There is so much I could show and tell but won't. Who can you trust these days? But I would offer any journalist some guiding words if the truth is what they truly seek.

So. What I would say to Orla?

I'm glad to see the BBC taking an interest in FTL's, rosters and fatigue in general and in particular the Middle East.

I think it would help if you could lay out your stall and objective. Where are you going with this?

FTL's are a complex issue, laid down legally by authorities, much of which makes little logical sense and vague enough to allow operators to step nimbly around the law to derive the maximum productivity from their crews often with little regard of their actual fitness to fly.

I would advise you do some research into what are the actual laws. You cannot begin to write until you understand them, at least in principle. Do you understand the difference between Duty Time, Flight Duty Time, Stick Time, Rest Time, Travel Time etc.? Do you understand fatigue reporting and processing? Do you understand the difference between being tired and being fatigued? Would you prefer a tired pilot to a fatigued one? Do you understand the overlap between Aviation Law and Employment Law? And do you appreciate the spirit of the law?

You cannot challenge the law itself unless you understand it. And no operator is stupid enough to simply break the law. If you are looking for evidence of this you will struggle to find it. When something goes wrong they will state for the public that they are acting within the law. And they are. Satisfied all go about their business without wondering if the law itself is reasonable. Perhaps look at the legal intentions.

I would also caution you fromlooking at isolated instances from pilots. Many pilots themselves often do not understand the law or the nuances of FTL's and wind up making embarrassing and technically inaccurate claims that the authorities or airlines put down without breaking a sweat. Pilots make poor legal representatives however tired they may be. If you want data it's out there. You must know where to look. You must do your homework not leave it only to the pilots to produce the material that is frequently a small glimpse of a larger issue. You must then compile the data into a meaningful, accurate article not one filled with irrelevant quotes, blurry faces and robotic voice distortion, dramatic as it all may be.

I don't know how often I hear pilots complaining of the hardships of 100 hour rosters. I can show you 100 hour rosters that would be a dream and 80 hour rosters that would be a nightmare. As a broad rule you should look at Duty Time. That is a better measure of how tired or fatigued one may be. It is after all time on the job that counts. Then look at how this duty time is constructed and what safeguards there are. That may raise an eyebrow.

Challenge who makes the law and who lobbies for law change. Then you are beginning to scratch the surface. Bear in mind that much of the Aviation Law in the Middle East is derived directly from European Aviation Law. So it must be ok right? I mean Brussels would get it right wouldn't they? Answerable politicians, transparent lawmaking, no lobbying allowed, sensible advise from impartial "experts"...

It might be a good start to go closer to home. Your own BALPA had huge issues with EASA changes to FTL's and in my opinion with good reason. But ultimately they lost and the LCC's got their way pleasing the public with better profits and lower fares. All great until it goes horribly wrong and people die but everyone can claim they were "operating within the legal guidelines." so it must have been those reckless, careless pilots. While the FAA were making more restrictive FTL's the Europeans were relaxing the rules allowing more airline self governance. Ring any bells?

On top of this all think of the application of the law. The clue's in the name: FT Limitations. Show me an operator who is appreciably more restrictive than the absolute limits. Do you conduct your life at the limits in every aspect? I doubt it. You would be quickly killed, die, burn out, or get old and sick before your time. Do you run your machinery at the absolute limits? In aviation at least that aspect is frowned upon. It's odd that principle doesn't propagate throughout all the operation.

Actually I'm amazed there are not more nasty occurrences in aviation but maybe there are and we simply don't get to see them for what they are.

In conclusion.

If you are looking for a quick piece for general public interest don't bother. You will either make a show of your lack of knowledge or be shot down quickly by the PR departments of airlines and the spin to the public who will only understand: "Those lazy pilots only have to fly 100 hours in 28 days. Us other mortals must work 160 so they are clearly underworked".

FTL's are the business of airlines and you better know your stuff before taking them on. It's a brave investigative journalist who does that in these days of 20 second attention spans and sound bites.

Good luck to you. I hope you get good sources and you can protect them. I hope you can portray the bigger problem rather that the isolated instances, illustrative as they may be. Will the BBC put the protection of their sources and the public before their economic interests? I'm a cynic when money is at play. It brings out the worst.

Don't be too hard on the Middle East. FTL's worldwide are a problem. But they are infinitely more dangerous in places where the lack of formal representation by the very people that experience the fatigue allows airlines to run unchecked. Perhaps ask a few lawmakers or airline managers when they last (or ever) flew a modern roster while they happily invoke the next modification, "variation" or "burn out policy".

To answer a general question: "Are there pilots being pushed beyond the limits of what is plainly sensible in terms of fatigue or health?" The answer is Yes. "Does this put the public at some level of reasonably avoidable risk?" Yes. It's been cried many times and glossed over.

There's never this much smoke without fire. Good luck in your quest. I look forward to reading some hard facts and truth in a real expose and having my faith in the BBC resorted as an impartial news agency.

Last edited by TOGA Thrust; 13th Dec 2016 at 18:08.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 18:51   #4 (permalink)
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Why don't you just spend 1 month flying around the world with such a schedule, from checkin till checkout and not relaxing/drinkin in business...

It will be an eye opener.........
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 19:08   #5 (permalink)
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The best post on Pprune for some time.

Bravo TOGA for telling it like it is.👍👍

A sound analysis and good advice to the naive and miss informed outside of the industry!

Nice one Centurion ..........like it like it!!👏👏
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 19:32   #6 (permalink)
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Hit the nail on the head. Well said.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 20:09   #7 (permalink)
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Brilliant post Toga. Utterly accurate and well written
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 20:19   #8 (permalink)
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Pilots are their own worst enemies sometimes...........
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 23:46   #9 (permalink)
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Denzel Washington on the truth about reporting news... brilliant
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Old 14th Dec 2016, 01:02   #10 (permalink)
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Great post TOGAThrust may I add a few things to your list.

GCAA and EK are controlled by the same person hence no real oversight from the authority

Under reporting of check in times beside slightly adjusted in AUG still not correct especially as outstation check in time has not changed at all. Also see WSJ Article.

Sim and Training events not counted towards Flight Duty which leads easily to busting the 900h yearly limit together with the mentioned factoring.

Threatening company culture which undermines the fatique reporting system.

Roster compression, Reduction of off days, Ridiculous short layovers, Flying East-West without any acknowledgement of body clock, not granting leave, off days filled up with online learning,
monthly target increased to now 95h, forcing pilots to fly even when sick ...

And yes the ME Airlines have a huge problem, following ICAO Regulation hence overworking their crews,
treating crew like slaves and endangering safety for the sake of unfair competition and profit.

2 accidents in a years time speak volumes what is going on here!

Last edited by Talparc; 15th Dec 2016 at 00:57.
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Old 14th Dec 2016, 16:34   #11 (permalink)
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I don't often persevere with such a long post on here..........but bravo. A true grip of the issues at hand.

I am also in agreement with not being so hard on the ME. I have gone 'fatigued' here, filled in the report and heard nothing else about it, yet take a look at what happened to a TCX Captain at home!


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Old 14th Dec 2016, 22:30   #12 (permalink)
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Excellent post TOGA thrust.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 00:36   #13 (permalink)
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Interesting stuff on fatique issue:


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Old 15th Dec 2016, 01:24   #14 (permalink)
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Good luck BBC...........xBBC...
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 13:29   #15 (permalink)
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The most obvious way to describe in an effective and truthful way the very serious problem of pilot fatigue to the general public would be to simply join a pilot for an entire block of duties during a busy roster period. Just follow him/her from leaving home to getting back home. The key is the pilot should not be chosen by the airline, it should be the pilots to send copies of their rosters to the journalist and invite him/her to join for ablock of duties which is truly representative of the toughest blocks he/she is used to fly.
My suggestion is: ask all low cost airlines in europe to let you follow a pilot in his/her duties for an entire block of duties next summer, adding that they should let their pilots know about the initiative so you can talk to them see their rosters and choose a block that is really representative of a potential fatigue situation. If the reply will be "no" then ask why and discuss.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 16:10   #16 (permalink)
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If the reply will be "no" then ask why and discuss.
It will be no and they will simply state security regulations or make up something else, not difficult to reject at all.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 17:56   #17 (permalink)
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Can I suggest focussing on FTLs in your own neck of the woods? Europe as had a massive change to the FTL rules, for the worse. Type BALPA Wake Up in any search engine. A poster above has given you a start on some links.

You'll have a lot more success in your story than trying to take down a Sheik.

Good luck with your story. I genuinely hope it gets a lot of attention and you can help us change ridiculous laws.
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Old 19th Dec 2016, 02:08   #18 (permalink)
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Agree with recall.

EK has new rules and guidelines being introduced from Jan 1st which not only clarify long range operations and provide clear, unambiguous definitions of layover timings and crew compliments, but also include reduced limits on cabin crew hours.

Surprisingly, these new rules are actually more restrictive than previous. That's NOT the direction the European authorities are heading so maybe an investigation closer to home may prove more beneficial and news worthy.

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Old 19th Dec 2016, 09:00   #19 (permalink)
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Harry check your facts:

Duty time in 28 days did indeed drop. But think of it, its almost impossible to do 200 hours in 28 days. That is a whole week of hours (40) more than the average joe in an office is required to work, and that person at least has a routine and is not working at all hours of day or night across multiple time zones.

What was limiting them was the 14 day limit of 105 which they have INCREASED to 115. Basically a 10% increase! Why do this? Simple, for the same reason they stopped days off after leave for pilots: They plan to make them work their leave back by compressing duty into the remaining days in the month, and the only way to do that is to increase the duty time. Flying is not an issue.

Poor cabin crew don't even know this has happened. Hardly notified and few avenues for formal comment. No one has even provided a basis or justification for increasing Duty Time by a full 10%.

Assuming they get only 2 days off in 14 (where most office workers here get 4 or 2 weekends), the CC will have to work almost 10 hours a day every day, at any time, on any clock.

Brings on visions of sweatshops for poor women in Victorian London.....
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Old 19th Dec 2016, 12:36   #20 (permalink)
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Are you only surprised yet?

Cheating is very much part of the local culture, just look at the lame excuse for not incorporating EK employees into the local work rules and law.

In any other part of the world this would be called blatant discrimination.
I challenge anyone applying the same to any local hero working abroad, he'd be on his way to the Human Rights Court the next second ......
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