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Tired budget jet pilots 'endanger passengers' - The Times

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Tired budget jet pilots 'endanger passengers' - The Times

Old 24th Dec 2003, 02:26
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I have just done 3 days of LVPs in and out of certain airports in Europe/UK. This kind of operation tends to take all my energy and all I do is fall over when I get home.

I want to know whether CAP 371 has been written with just how many hours one should be able to cope with?

The point is the KIND OF HOURS one does are not the same, therefore the energy expended differs from say a nice sunny carefree day, to a day full of LVPs and delays. This should be addressed immediately as an accident could be imminent. The days we do should be graded in order of TIREDNESS FACTOR according to weather and other important factors.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 02:41
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Reading the above.
Looks like you are losing pilots fast.
Better get your figure out and sort it,or its third class to kiwi land out of tilbury with a smelly bunch of asylum seekers.
Serious heavy weight shareholders will not tolerate it and nor should the CAA for that matter.
Remember what happened to uncle ayling of ayling airlines!

Merry Christmas
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 03:55
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The Sixth Sense.

Excellent thread with some good posts.
One thing's for sure: the major threat facing airlines like easyjet at the moment is a serious fatigue related event. If current rostering practices remain unchanged then it's certainly a case of when, not if.
Just make sure it's not you.
When you pitch up for a duty, no matter how knackered you feel, you are basically saying that you are fit to fly. If you subsequently become involved in an incident/accident and are lucky enough to survive, then explaining that you were fatigued ain't going to cut much ice.
As responsible flight crew working for an irresponsible airline that regards absolute limits on flying as commercial targets, we need to engender a very strong sense of self preservation. If the airline does not act to help protect us against fatigue, then we must do it ourselves until the management clearly understands our position.
I know what it feels like to suffer from fatigue whilst flying. It's not big and it's not clever. And it's not safe.
Why should flying whilst punch-drunk be any more acceptable than flying whilst under the influence of alcohol? The effects are very similar.
I've worked six consecutive days only on one occasion. I'll never do it again. Five long days on the trot is manageable, six is madness.
So next time you're rostered for six on the trot, here's what you do:
The evening before your sixth rostered days flying, you phone up crewing and politely advise them that you are unable to accept the duty on the following day. They will explain that the duty does not violate your flight-time limitations and is therefore legal. They will ask you why you are refusing to accept the duty. You tell them that you will be taking a days rest because you are fatigued. That will be the end of the conversation.
If you are afraid of a phone call summoning you to a 'well-being' chat with one of the hierarchical beings, then you are afraid of the wrong things.
Act responsibly. Develop your sixth sense. Do not fly when you are fatigued.

Last edited by Capt.Pugwash; 24th Dec 2003 at 05:06.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 04:44
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On the other hand, I work 8 on/6 off and I love it.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 05:10
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"On the other hand, I work 8 on/6 off and I love it."

Prat.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 06:02
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Becareful bandying the word 'fatigued' about. It will come back to haunt you. I've heard of management claiming that you can not manage your sleep correctly. and therefore it is your fault and must sort it out.
12 hours duty, 12 off does not leave much time for the other things that life demands. Trying to squeeze it all in will cause you to be under par. Is it your fault. No? We are not Albertrosses.
Management seem to have lost the plot in the balance between work and play. It is a special British infliction, at worse, & sadly aviation in most places. Trouble is the a/c fly too far. Boeing caused the initial problem, crews forsook the rest area, the financial directors twisted the arms of the CAA's. They relented and relaxed FTL's. There in lies the nub. The CAA's have dual roles, commercial and safety. The airlines preach safety is paramount, so do the CAA's, but they both act in the opposite sense. Commercialism. Bring back elitism, I say. Only first class fly. so less passengers who pay more, etc. etc. (retract toungue from cheek.
Anyway study the NSTB report after Valujet. They said the FAA should split its role and not be in charge of commerce & safety. Conflict of interest. It's true, I've been the brunt of it. Ludicrous rosters to keep the airline alive. It went bust anyway.
Meanwhile back to fatigue; don't use that word, just say unfit. It is your judgement. It could be anything. Trying to sleep at 21.00 before a 3rd early in summer evenings is impossible. If you don't sleep you are unfit to work for 10 hours. Simple.
I remember many time asking to see the secretary for salaries, or this & that, to be told they were at the doctors, or dentist or off sick. Try that as a crew member and wait for the phone to ring. If you want to visit the doctor, take a day off. 'Xcuse me I'd like to be rostered a day sick next week to visit my doctor. At the end of the year your sickness record is checked. Too much; yeah, well I was knackered so much, immune system was low etc etc. The pilot shortage is coming. Hang fast, but don't abuse the 'F' word. Just be smart.

At the end of the day make the CAA do its job. If the FOI refuses to listen then go higher. You'll get there. It's a long climb, but never give up.

It's better to have tried and failed than never tried at all. But I believe with good leadership and the correct stratergy you can succeed, because the cause is just and right.

S#@t. that sounds too much GWB. Sorry.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 07:25
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RAT 5,

Thanks for your comments. But you've completely missed the point.
Fatigue and tiredness due to lack of sleep are two different conditions.
You can be tired because you had to get up early to operate a flight but that just means you are suffering from a sleep deficit. Fatigue is a condition brought upon by repeated and prolonged activity. Sleep deficit can be a contributory factor. The effects are similar alcohol intoxication and whilst suffering from it you should not be operating any type of machinery.
If you want to get your facts right then do what I have done and spend some time talking to Dr. Simon Bennett, the source of the article in Times. It is generally accepted that he knows what he is talking about.
PM me and I'll give you his email and phone number.
If you are unable to accept a flight duty because you are feeling the effects of fatigue, then that is the reason you should give. Anything else is bullsh*t.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 08:00
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Cool

This document arrives at the conclusion that, adjusted for risk exposure, Capts on duty for longer periods are involved in an increasingly disportionate number of accidents.

http://www.asy.faa.gov/Risk/Newsletter/nov-dec01.htm

If you paste the little table into excel and then plot the graph, the rate of increase above 8 hours on duty is startling.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 09:23
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Question

Is Easyjet that bad to work for?

I am looking at joining but am now feeling very unhappy about the move having read these posts?
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 16:20
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Unhappy

Most line pilots feel tired from working 6 days on, 3 days off with quite often 4 sectors a day. I doubt that there are many pilots who see easyJet as their long term career I haven't met any of them yet. Aside from management pilots obviously!
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 16:51
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Today's younger generation of pilots will not survive 30 years in this crazy mad, rat race of airline flying, unless they/we all go part/half time.
This means the airlines will need TWICE as many of us.
Soon all airlines will be FORCED to introduce part time (Europe).
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 17:13
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Captain Pugwash:

I see that you are a new boy. I do work 8 on/6 off and I am most certainly not a prat. Neither are the couple of hundred pilots around me who do the same. I certainly do not ever want to go back to the many years that I had to work within the constraints of CAP 371.

Under that system I was never ever rested unless I was on holiday. Getting 2 or 3 days off is simply not enough to recharge the batteries My 8 on/6 off pattern works out more like 7 on/6 off. This means that I get the better part of a week at home and after that amount of domestic bliss, I am more than ready and willing to going back to work.

Please don't go around calling people prats when you don't know what you are talking about. No doubt you will learn as you mature.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 17:15
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Who's in Charge?

In the hard commercial world of Low Cost, there is, in my experience a lot of trust placed in - and a lot of reliance placed upon - the Captain. By that I mean even more than in a national carrier.

It is actually rewarding to keep the ship on time and sort out problems which, on a national carrier, would be dealt with by some department or other. This used to be appreciated by the management in the early days.

It seems that things have deteriorated to the point where there is not only no appreciation - but an expectance that crews will stretch to the utmost. This is not helped by Captains who submit to a regime where fatigue becomes the norm.

Captains, you have to show the way. If you are not fit to fly, you must call in unfit. If you see another crew member flying when unfit, you should send him home. If all Captains act in this way, then very quickly the message will get through - probably quicker than any lambasting of management in these columns could achieve.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 20:12
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The EZY culture is to put all resposibility and blame on the Captain. They operate with no support from the management, indeed, they are frequently bullied and threatened into situations by that management.

The same applies to FOs, but the leverage is greater as promotion is based largely upon how far you bend over, and nothing at all to do with capability - just ask any of the Dutch FOs for a start, they've been royally shafted for years, along with a large number of Brit FOs with any modicum of strength of character (especially at LTN). While most of those promoted are good operators, there are several who stand out as particularly inept with strong character flaws, but have cosseted their way in. Many very capable individuals have, however, been black listed if they show a level of knowledge/capability/intelligence/integrity higher than that of their manager.

This threatening culture makes it very difficult for individuals to report fatigue when the managers don't care. This was made clear with a very cynical internal crew fatigue survey done earlier in the year. It only asked how many hours sleep were achieved before report; not how much sleep was attempted but not achieved due to body clock shifts etc. The desired end result was clear from the questions - pilots not controlling their sleep patterns correctly. A complete farce.

Last edited by Whippersnapper; 24th Dec 2003 at 20:27.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 20:26
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It's not just the "low cost" carriers that are at it, all companies are trying to squeeze more from less and less. Long days, min. rests, multiple early mornings and roster changes are a fact of life at a great many full service airlines as well.

Quite topical that this article should have been produced at the same time as the drinking incident in the US. Whilst in now way condoning what happened there it is pretty obvious to most of us that fatigue in aircrew is a far bigger safety problem overall in the industry than booze.

Last edited by Max Angle; 25th Dec 2003 at 07:09.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 20:28
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Some very noble sentiments have been posted here, boiling down to saying we should have the courage to say no to flying when we consider ourselves fatigued.

I agree with those sentiments - unfortunately they do not reflect the world in which we operate. The reality is that in any airline there are a few pilots willing to put their heads above the parapet but the majority prefer to do as they are told, albeit whinging in the crewroom, on the flightdeck and on the internet. Management knows this all too well so the "troublemakers" are swiftly identified and made to leave by one means or another. Ours is a small profession in which news travels fast, so a pilot who has left an airline under such circumstances will have the greatest difficulty finding another job. This serves as a salutary warning to the rest of the pilot force.

The solution should be sensible limitations imposed by the national and international authorities. Sadly, crews are always outgunned by vested interests when represented at the meetings where such things are discussed. I've lost count of the meetings which I have attended where BALPA or whoever have been politely listened to and then marginalised by the big battalions of the operators who invariably get their way by dint of having more votes. UK CAA is aware of the problem but its hands are tied by the requirement to be "responsive to industry".

In my view, the problem will only be solved when we achieve critical mass - in other words, many more pilots being ready to say no to dangerous rostering. Whether this can be achieved, I just don't know, as it requires a sea-change of attitude amongst the pilot community as a whole. It takes a certain courage to put your job on the line when there is the mortgage etc to be paid.

confundemus
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 20:54
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How is it that BALPA have achieved **** all for EZ people on the roster front when the defenceless innocents in the other big loco seem to be reasonably happy with their rosters.

Could it be that BALPA head office is simply another aviation outfit populated with self serving wannabes and bean counters leaving the frontline troops to struggle on bravely (or not as the case may be). This is after all ,the standard airline model.!
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 22:45
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Sadly, it's all down to 's

If everyone sends their views to BALPA, who represent us all, then they cannot deny any lack knowledge or a concern within the industry.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 23:16
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Herodotus:

I fear your observations may be correct. The BALPA CC worked extremely hard in EZY, but were left swinging by the BALPA oficers. The official ballot count for industrial action was 65% against, but I never met a single pilot who voted against, which makes me suspect the vote outcome, to put it mildly.

We had 2 CC chiefs who signed deals away with the mgmt without even discussing the issues with the rest of the CC, never mind the members, while the rest of the CC is in a constant state of flux due to resignations. Sadly, BALPA, the only massed opposition to bad management, is castrated by it's own managers disinterest in doing any real work. All that they seem interested in is recruitment drives, NEC meetings, elections and claiming credit for other peoples efforts.

Since they provide little assistance to the CCs, these in-company reps simply do not have the time, resources or expertise to counter the management, resulting in a continuing erosion of T&C. BALPA looses all credibility and members resign (though they don't seem to realise this), leaving the only option of quitting the company. The balance is lost and market forces are the only tool we have left.
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 08:01
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Whippersnapper, that may have been the case last year, but it most certainly is not this year. The CC are working very hard, and pushing Balpa to work hard for us. The 5/3 issue is most important to us, lifestyle issues are the key to retaining pilots, and recruiting pilots so with another 115 A319's yet to arrive, this gives us tremendous leverage.We have presented the results of the recent survey to management, there is a meeting lined up for the 5th, and a lot more going on besides that.
I think 2004 will be a very good year for our pilots, but it is up to us to make it so,

Regards,

MS.
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