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Qatar Fatigue Concerns

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Qatar Fatigue Concerns

Old 22nd Sep 2021, 20:43
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Qatar Fatigue Concerns

With the recent COVID outbreak a lots of airline had to find a way to survive.
Some put their crew on unpaid leave, some had to made redundancy, some went bankrupt.
Some on the other hand took COVID as a chance/an excuse to abuse their employees and the regulations.
Very few took it as far as Qatar Airways.
I don't want repeat what was said already (on a thread that, for some reason, is now closed) about the salary, the cuts, the LOL etc…

There is something that is, for me, a much bigger concern with QR, it's the level of crew fatigue.
Crew are exhausted. During the pandemic the fatigue department, aware of the issue, published a 'fatigue survey'. 93% of the pilots reported that they were scared to write a fatigue report. 80% of the pilots reported that rostering and stress had an adverse effect on fatigue, 60% that they had trouble sleeping. It was noted by the medical department that hotel lock-down in some destinations has an adverse effect on mental heath and well-being and contribute to increased fatigue.
This was almost a year ago... NOTHING was done to address those issues. It has actually gotten worse. Hours have never decreased. When some destinations started to open, QR decided to enforce hotel lock-down for all of their crew, vaccinated or not, on all destinations, regardless of local regulations.
When responsible airlines decided to cancel flights (and damage their image) because they didn't have the crew, Qatar decided to stretch their crew to the 'legal' maximum. And when this was not enough, they changed the already very permissive regulations.
We have reached "unprecedented" level of fatigue, especially on the 777 and now the 350, to a point I have huge doubts on the safety of operations.

Let me explain.
- First of all Qatar Airways has always been using factoring. When you fly heavy crew, rest time doesn't count towards block time and therefore limitations. On a 16h flight you will log only 8h, except the PIC who will log 16h.
- But this wasn't enough. When other airlines were going to china with a crew change in BKK, ICN or any airport on the way, QR decided to operate round trip to China. Those trips busted all imaginable limitations. But no problem, it was made 'legal' by QCAA. They introduced 'China ULR', 23h duty with 4 crews. Of course, factoring was applied to those flights, and such a duty will count only for 6h30-7h00 block hours. Yes, 23h FDP will count as little as 6h30 regarding limitations.
- But this wasn't enough! On a recent ACN "crew B" (the relief crew, not at the controls for takeoff and landing) has to deduct an extra 1h30 from the block time, and therefore the limitations. If you are not the operating crew, you have to be in the flight deck for taxi, takeoff, initial climb and descent. But this does not count towards limitations.
B crew on a 14h flight to SEA will count only as 5h30 towards limitations.
- But this was not enough! All leave got cancelled. Yes cancelled, people flew like hell and didn't get leave. HR ****** up completely, we don't have pilots, we know fatigue is an issue according to the survey, what to do ??? Just cancel the leave of the remaining flight crew of course !!!! Don't even allow them to carry anything forward to the next year. We will throw those dogs a bone and make them believe that we are doing them a favor! This is by the way completely illegal even in Qatar. But not an issue for QR. They are not even able to respect the regulations of their own country... What a disgrace.
- But this was not enough! There used to be a limitations on consecutive disruptive (night) duties. This was removed and you can now fly 6 nights in a row with 12h rest in between and finish with a 14h trip to the east, get your EERP there, rinse and repeat.
- But this was not enough! In every airline block time is calculated from parking brake release to engine shutdown. Not in QR, it's now from the time the aircraft reach 2 knots to 10 seconds before parking brake. An other few minutes saved on every flight.
- But this wasn't enough! Previously in QR, like in any airline, you had the possibility to report fatigue for a flight. Reporting fatigue would get you out of the roster for 48h. This was too much good for QR. Now when you call fatigue, despite all the rumors and the fear of getting retribution, you'll be given a whooping 12h rest including a local night. Then you’ll be considered fit for duty.
- But this was not enough! Before the PIC of a flight didn’t need to apply factoring. This was changed on a recent ACN. Now on 4 men crew the PIC also has to deduct the rest time from the block. Who is ‘in command’ when he is resting ??
- But this was not enough! We used to have a block of 4 days off (GOFF). Those are long gone. You will get the absolute minimum rest between each duty.

All those tricks put together allow Qatar Airways to disregard any EASA hours limitations.
On a 32h flight DOH - LAX - DOH, you will be logging 14h30 towards the limitations. 17H30 will just disappear. Fastest flight ever if you look at our logbooks. If they assign you as crew B on each leg (this happen when you mix cargo and pax) you will log 13h, 19h will just disappear.
The 100 hours of flight time in any consecutive 28 days, the 900 hours of flight time in any calendar year, the 1000 hours of flight time in 12 Consecutive Months, all of those are not an issue anymore. Your 130h block a month will be counted as 85h, your 1100h block in a calendar year will be counted as 750h, your 1400h in any 12 consecutive month will be counted as 950h.

To cover all their wrong doing, QR introduced an electronic logbook. We are not supposed to have our logbook. The company will kindly provide everything and will make all calculations for us. We just have to print those pages and voila! Convenient, isn't it.

I have been operating like that for the past 18 months. I am now exhausted. I have very often trouble sleeping at night and I regularly wake up in the middle of my rest. I barely spend time with my wife and my kids. I am filing fatigue reports on a regular basis. I even had to call fatigue a few times, and 12h is not enough. I am now calling sick when I need to rest. Food poisoning is now how I am getting rest.
How about that for mental heath and well-being. But don't worry, instead of spending money on keeping their crew and reducing fatigue, they are spending money in yoga courses, panels to explain you what is fatigue (thank you, I know now !), and sponsoring. So if I am exhausted, locked alone in a room for a 2 weeks cargo trip, not an issue. I can read their pamphlet while doing yoga and watching football !! All good, no reason to jump through the windows ! And if I have a heart attack, my bad, I had a pamphlet on nutrition and sleep hygiene, I should have read that more carefully !
With all the factoring and deductions over the past 12 consecutive months I have roughly 960 QR 'logbook hours'; the one that counts towards limitations. When you count in real block hours that's more than 1450h, 45% more than real EASA limitations.
Would I be flying with a normal EASA airline, I would have been on leave for 4 months now.

I don't understand how QR is allowed to operate over European, US or Australian air space with dead tired pilots, pilots that would be long grounded in those countries.
This is very common among 777 FO and will shortly be the case for all 350/330 and 777 pilots.
Cabin crew are collapsing and having heart attack on a regular basis now (they didn't read the pamphlet !!). Their work is more physical than the FD, and they are getting less in-flight rest. On top of that CC management is brutal and discourage any complain or report.
Add to this the level of frustration and resent toward the company and I believe you have the perfect recipe for a disaster.

I can't resign, because I am the only one providing for family of 4, buy whenever I can, I am actively looking for a new job, anything else, anywhere else.

And now Europe wants to give access to more slots to QR?
To all the European pilots, Qatar Airways may become shortly a part of open sky, don't let it happen ! There has been a lots of discussion about the unfair competition that this will create.
None of those mentioned the crews and fatigue. Not only QR has access to government resources, cheap fuel, cheap workforce, cheap (and now extremely stretched) maintenance, but they need 30% less crew than any European or US airline to operate. When your airline is cancelling a flight, QR is pushing is illegally pushing their crew and taking your market. They have little to no concern for the safety of their operations, they just look for expansion at all cost.
Any mistake will be the pilot fault. The guy will be terminated, the report buried in the sand and a new ACN will be issued. Problem solved.
If they become part of open sky, there's going to be a lots of challenges for European pilots and cabin crew. Airlines that actually care for their employees, or apply standard EASA regulations, will not stand a chance against Qatar Airways.
I can't understand how unions and EASA regulators can let this happen. I don't understand how they can enforce regulations to European airlines but not to foreign airlines at the cost of safety. Is it really just to sell some more Airbus (maybe the 'crac' problem that only Qatar Airways encounters starts to make sense), or did some people got some ‘backsheesh’
Same goes for US crews and airlines, but at least they were clever enough not to let them be part of their open sky.
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 06:45
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put this into a nice letter and send it to the safety departments of the respective authority - I mean all of them and also to EASA to Brussels together with statements of your co workers
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 11:14
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The people in charge know very well what they are doing - I also know that they are reading this board but they press on with it. The point is that the risk/reward for this dangerous exploitation model makes financial sense to them and since there is practically no effective regulation from the local authority it will not be stopped unless AB and the owners change their minds or they are forced to by regulators overseas which is equally as unlikely. Qatar is an extremely wealthy and welcomed customer as well as stake holder in big corporations worldwide that nobody wants to piss off just to please some overworked crews.

The financial "risk" of losing an airplane (god forbid) is relatively well defined financially and can be statistically analyzed and hedged against through sophisticated insurance products. Im not saying that they would ever like this to happen, but they are certainly pushing their luck right now knowing that human error is already responsible for 80% of all fatal aviation accidents and 10-15% of which were fatigue related under normal duty regulations.

It's time to act now. The camel is exhausted. Will you keep beating it until it's dead or will you give it a ******* break?
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 12:12
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How can one believe in policies like Fatigue Risk Management System, Human Factors, Flight Safety, all of which are undersigned by the CEO when they can simply bend the rules overnight without telling anyone (this new factoring shenanigan started in August) and there's no one to refer this insanity to? Completely arbitrary and unethical, basically scrapped the whole system which was already stretching thin and took whatever joy there still was to fly and turned everyone's lives a living hell.
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 13:02
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With respect to the individual's life choices to stay on the job, no one can possibly ask them to put their own name to such letter. There needs to be a better, workable solution.

The fallout would be multi-million, and AB does not change his spots.
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 14:02
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I couldn't agree more with the author of this post. After 4+ years with QR I was DONE. This airline should indeed be investigated and actions should be taken. I feel for the people finding themselves trapped in a situation where their general and menthal healt is deteriorating and dont dare to speak out due the economical situation they are finding themselves in.

This is human abuse and nothing else.
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 14:28
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One of the issue nowadays is if you call fatigue; you will indeed get only 12hrs rest but you might be asked to have a free session with a QR psychologist and not optional. Another way to push even further the worry about reporting fatigue!

sick is definitely a good option. Too bad, food poisoning on board after having ate a meal on the last hour of the 23h50 duty. Which was probably loaded 3h before!!
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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 16:53
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Can't imagine the QCAA worrying about fatigue tbh they are more worried about paint peeling off the A350's...

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Old 23rd Sep 2021, 23:54
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Archive mole

So easy to say sitting in your arm chair sipping whatever is your fancy - The fear factor in QR - actively driven by the numbties in the office - is what keeps the airline operations going.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 15:58
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TruckR, your post should be made a sticky.
it should also be ringing alarm bells in your ‘survival mode’ of your thinking.
You are too close to the problem to see the solution even though you see the symptoms.
The company won’t change quickly enough even if they wanted, to stop your health deteriorating leaving you as an empty husk of a man unable to function beyond sitting on a chair needing silence unable to cope with a family life.
A person just can’t keep being abused in this way and not pay the price. Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for a good reason - it works and breaks the person completely down.
If you can still fill out a form, hold a conversation, make love to your wife, play with your kids, socialise with friends, enjoy a night out then there is still time. Get out asap. Before Christmas. I’m serious.
Forget seniority, your work colleagues, flying the jet, nice car and so on. Get out whilst you can still function as a human. It just isn’t worth staying in that job. Ask me how I know this.
I don’t know you and I have no reason to think you will get out, but I felt I had to say something in response to your post. There is a great world outside aviation but you need to be able to function to enjoy it.
I feel for you brother.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 16:15
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Couldn't agree more with Icancmyhousefromhere and TruckIR,

you cannot see the effect this work/lack of life balance is having on yourself until either you have left or it is still too late.

The authorities need to get to grips with these ME airlines who appear to be a law unto thenselves / routinely disregard and reinterpret the ftl's.

How can an airline crew be strapped to the inside of a jet airliner for 23 hours and expected to operate safely?
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Old 25th Sep 2021, 07:13
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This is a very well written thread stating Reality and nothing more.

I am glad you had the courage to come out and write down, how all this is affecting you and your skill.

Raising your voice and telling the truth isn't libel at all,
its a concern that has been shared by many and will continue to do so,

I am glad, i am not part of this mess anymore, There is life beyond QR, and someone mentioned that Management is looking into these threads, well i agree with this statement, they are, but instead of listening, they are trying to intimidate.

QR should seriously be concerned about SAFETY right now and also Staff Leaving and the World Cup Fast Approaching.

80% of aviation incidents are caused by Human Factor Issues and the problem is that They Know all this but do nothing to significantly change the environment
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 09:30
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Limits are being pushed everywhere. Its a spiral dive. Eu airlines look at the competitive advantage qatar has on ftl’s and mark my words they will lobby easa to follow suit.

The arguement will be “airliners are not dropping out the sky” and unfortunately until there is an accident because of this (difficult to prove) nothing will change.

Remeber how the TFS KLM accident was a sea change for CRM, unfortunately until there is an FTL related accident nothing will change, especially in a third world country like Qatar.
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 09:57
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British airways 777 crews being canvassed for 6 month detachments (and possible extensions) to QR based in Doha. That should ease the pressure a little? Up to 20 full flightdeck crews (Captains and First officers) with OCC training commencing in October.
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 10:25
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Not exactly sure you’ll get trampled by the herd of volunteers rushing to take that one up, particularly Captains!
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 10:31
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Really? With hundreds of ExQR 777 crews still out of a job? Man, don't I LOVE the Briton's ethics and morality!
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 11:50
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I am afraid, European airline CEO are now making the best out of the worse. Means, they have a good reason now to push EASA requiring less restrictive regulations. When done, they will try to ban QR again.
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 13:32
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TruckR, I am heartbroken to hear your story. I have 22 years experience in other airlines and can quite believe some of the pressures you report.

My advice to you and any others in a similar situation, is to get out of it. If you lose your health or your family, you will never get them back, and nothing is worth losing those.

You might have debts. You might love flying big jets. You might be hanging on, hoping it will get better one day, but it won't. You need to get away from this airline. The World has changed, no airline manager cares about you as a person. There are self - funded newbies in a long queue outside the door, clamouring to get in. You are an expense. An overhead to be used as efficiently as possible. If you fall by the wayside, they won't care and will simply recruit some newbies.

Pilots themselves have been cowed into not taking action. They will almost never go on strike, most won't even report fatigue, as you know. Company Councils have been weakened. The CAAs seem to do nothing to prevent the airlines' drive to run their crews at the absolute maximum efficiency and beyond. You have to report sick just to get enough sleep - ask yourself how crazy that is and how much your management care about you.

Very big money is behind all this; you and I cannot do anything about it except walk away.

For the sake of your health and your family, just get away from the situation, whatever that takes. Abandon any thoughts you might have had about a long aviation career. Flying big modern jets to foreign places is fantastic, but not under the conditions you report. Do something else. Be with your family as they grow up - you will never get that time back. Live your life, you only get one of those.

Good luck
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Old 28th Sep 2021, 17:35
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Guess that's why BA closed down LGW Lite. That's why BA should have made crews redundant by fleet rather than seniority. Then they would have had loads of 777 Captains jumping at the chance.
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Old 21st Oct 2021, 07:55
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​​​​​​They have no ethics, they are just worms ready to suck whoever finger for money
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