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Pilot 'Fatigue' - Research

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Pilot 'Fatigue' - Research

Old 4th Jun 2004, 13:45
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Pilot 'Fatigue' - Research

To all Pilots,

I have been an Airline Pilot for many years and I am endeavoring to research and try and establish the extent of 'fatigue' amongst Commercial Pilots, I am sure you would all agree that 'Fatigue' in aviation is an important safety issue that needs to be seriously addressed.

There have been various 'studies' into Pilot Fatigue', conducted over the years, but none, as far as I am aware, have actually asked a large consensus of Pilots as to their opinions and thoughts on dealing with the problem.

Airlines, Government Agencies (and Pilots), need to be made aware of the dangers of 'fatigue' and it's negative effect on performance,

Many airlines often work pilots to the 'legal maximum' resulting in 'fatigue' and with European airspace becoming increasingly congested, compounded with a shortage of qualified Air Traffic Control Officers - ATCOs (currently running at 12 % within the euro zone), pilots need to be more vigilant than ever before.

If the 'European Parliament' has its way, with proposed new legislation, UK pilots will be made (rostered) to work even longer hours.

The net result of all this, is 'Pilot Fatigue', with the inevitable consequences.

Airlines can often take simple steps to reduce 'fatigue' amongst it's pilot workforce, by such things as sensible work rosters, improving working conditions, to name but a few, however, as is often the case, commercial considerations take precedence before safety.

The aim of this 'research' is to simply highlight the problem and then perhaps forward the findings/results to BALPA, MPs or an appropriate Government Agency, so that pressure can be brought to bear on employers to recognize their 'duty of care' to it's pilot workforce and indeed the wider public.

If there are any Pilots that have experienced 'Fatigue' which compromised or could have compromised the safety of a flight or which directly or indirectly resulted in an incident, then I would be very interested in hearing from you, either on the forum or to my 'private email address'

Presumably, any individual responding to my posting, will elect to be anonymous, but the collective results will be used as a general indication as to the extent of the problem.

It is my opinion that highlighting this problem can only benefit Pilots and indeed commercial aviation, in the long term.

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Old 4th Jun 2004, 14:09
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Will there not be a meeting in Luxemburg on the 10th and 11th of june where the transport ministers of the EU are going to implement these potential dangerous EU work and Rest regulations....

What will the pilot unions of Europe do about this???QTA
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 16:27
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MB, you might try NASA, ALPA, and various airlines ACRM depts. From my experience, fatigue is not on the top of the list when it comes to safety. Reputable airlines have many other issues that need to be resolved before having to increase the pilot roster to cover the same amount of flying. For example, ramp issues, security issues, maintenance issues. Most reputable airlines will not force a pilot to fly if he says he is fatigued. On the other hand, a pilot should be able to make a convincing case as to why he is too fatigued to fly. (Weather delays causing you to be on reduced rest, Hotel putting rock band next to your room) Pilots that are able to get hired by reputable companies are quite resillient. Even when they are tired, they have an amazing ability to focus on the task at hand. That being said, there does seem to be a corelation between fatigue and complacency. Most fatigue related errors seem to fall into the complacency category. When pilots are asked to exceed 14 hours of duty, it is important to slow down (not get rushed), not let complacency set in (what am i doing now, what's next), and brief the crew to watch eachother for mistakes and be assertive.

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Old 5th Jun 2004, 01:19
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Airlines can often take simple steps to reduce 'fatigue' amongst it's pilot workforce,
The trouble is they don't, they don't give a t**s as long as it's legal and they have the regulations to hide behind.
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Old 5th Jun 2004, 08:43
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No question about it, fatigue is a huge, yet understated problem for airline pilots today, myself included. A good place to start a serious review of the problem would be to review exactly when the existing FTL rules were written. Also who wrote them, and were they ever agreed with a professional body? When was the last review and comprehensive overhaul of the original rules?

I do not know any of the answers, but rumour has it that they were in part prepared originally by one Douglas Bader, which raises any number of questions. Rumours notwithstanding, let's raise this key issue and discuss it wisely, before the disgraceful British press get hold of the wrong end of the stick and start creating their typical media scares.

Right, gotta try and grab some rest before my next bullet.
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Old 5th Jun 2004, 11:00
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i've said it before but I'll say it again....the unwillingness of various regulatory authorities to attribute accidents to pilot fatigue, even when clearly the root causal factor (i.e. Little Rock) is clearly indicative of the futility of such attempts. Anyone who works in an airline is well awar of the horror with which the 'F' word is treated by FOM's.

If you don't agree,just tell me of one accident report which has EVER attributed the MAIN cause of the accident to pilot fatigue.
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Old 5th Jun 2004, 12:42
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What about that recent crash involving a swiss 146 /avro and over 16hrs duty?? in poor wx to boot?
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Old 5th Jun 2004, 15:46
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I agree that companies should have a closer look at the hours that pilots and ATCO's are working. Commercial pressures make companies push to the limits. In our industry where SAFETY is at the top then to me this is not safe. Would you get on an aircraft if you knew the Captain or F/O was tired? Would you fly with a colleague who was tired? Would you trust the Air Traffic Controllers/Assistants if you knew they were tired? I know I wouldn't. If as professionals we are doubting the system then why don't the people running the system sort it out. We can all send these messages and pontificate about how professional we are but nothing ever gets done, until an accident happens. It's just like sickness policies which are being introduced. Companies have software to evaluate sickness. If you are outside the accepted criteria then you are interviewed or disciplined. This means that one day we will have a tired and slightly under the weather Captain with a tired and slightly under the weather First Officer, on the ground will be a tired and slightly under the weather Controller with a tired and slightly under the weather Assisstant. Next thing COLLISION, massive carnage, people dead. Who will be blamed then or will any of the above mentioned be murdered because of negligence. I really believe that it is up to us as professional aviators to ensure that this does not happen but I also believe that the companies that employ us also have a duty to ensure that the above scenario does not happen. If the industry keeps going the way it is then it will.
Got off my soap box now.
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Sorry, forgot about the licenced engineers who are quite important. Imagine if they were tired and missed something.
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Old 5th Jun 2004, 19:14
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Add airport ops staff to that

12 hour solo shifts are quite normal in the UK so after 4 days most Ops guys and gals are knackered and just waiting for their releif to arrive.

Sir George Cayley
Old 6th Jun 2004, 09:07
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Our work is governed by limitations. They usually have their own chapter in the OM. Imagine if we used some of these as 'commercial targets' the same way as FTLs are used. It would be bad airmanship and the aeroplane would break more often.
There should be a requirement for crewing officers to be trained on the effects of fatigue and at least be familiar with the Oxford and NASA studies on the subject.
What about driving home after flying? Employers have a duty of care that extends beyond insisting that you live near the airfield. Have a look at truck drivers regs. Interesting comparison.
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 19:31
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the unwillingness of various regulatory authorities to attribute accidents to pilot fatigue, even when clearly the root causal factor (i.e. Little Rock)
Fatigue was listed promenantly in the statement of probable cause for this accident:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the flight crew’s failure to discontinue the approach when severe thunderstorms and their associated hazards to flight operations had moved into the airport area and the crew’s failure to ensure that the spoilers had extended after touchdown. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s (1) impaired performance resulting from fatigue and the situational stress associated with the intent to land under the circumstances, (2) continuation of the approach to a landing when the company’s maximum crosswind component was exceeded, and (3) use of reverse thrust greater than 1.3 engine pressure ratio after landing.
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 21:51
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Governments are caving into commercial lobbying and Unions seem totally inept at stopping the downward slide towards reduced quality of life (expectancy) for pilots with all the attendant consequences

Negotiation at Management and Union level has not produced any results.

The only possible avenue that may be open is for newly retired pilots who have recent experience of 'compressed' working to form a body and voice and using anonymous donations from Pilots in the Industry to finance short media (1-2 minute) presentations on TV/radio in the form of 'Political Broadcasts' and single page tabloid adverts informing the public of the increasing dangers of crew duty -v- fatigue -v- busy airspace, possibly with (after legal advice) a name and shame strategy. This group or body would eventually be given free time when interviewed by News units after an accident or incident where they can stress their point of view.

Eventually, after a while (it will not happen overnight) public awareness will increase and we may see a boycotting of certain airlines as we did with Oil companies at the pumps. "I will not fly with an airline whose crew has done a 16 hour multi-sector duty"

This may jolt the erring carriers into making sure the public do fly with them by reducing their crews' duty times especially if their competitors are doing the same.

There are risks. Some pilots may prefer 16 hour days 5 days a week to just stay in a job with a marginally profitable airline or legal action being levied against the retired 'Whistleblowers'. This could be overcome by using 'Nicknames' for airlines such as "Nigel", "Whitehat" etc. but something that the public easily recognises.

Failing that, grin and bear it and be thankful you are in a job.

The Privateer
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 22:17
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"Grin and bear it"
You must be joking. Our profession is supposed to be the safest in the world. Imagine telling a passenger that there may be a problem with the a/c or the pilots and controllers may be fatigued, but to "grin and bear it". I'm sure if that was the case then passenger loads would go down and airlines would have any profits reduced. It is not a case of "grin and bear it" but a case of "lets do something about it" to ensure that safety is not comprimised and we keep our jobs because the loads remain high.
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 22:29
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Aircrew Fatigue

Majorbyte et al

Re your fatigue thread. I am attending an Aircrew Fatigue Workshop at the CAA on 30th Jun. Agenda includes FTL (history and future), Napping, Use of Melatonin, Impact of Light/Noise on Sleep, ULR Ops and In Flight Rest. Also a demo of "SAFE" computer model for fatigue evaluation. I will post something giving you a run down as soon as the workshop is over and can call you if you give me a PM. Bof
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 22:59
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Agenda includes FTL (history and future), Napping, Use of Melatonin,
Please post the conclusions here, I would really like to hear about it. Unfortuanely the 30th of June will be my 5th day of work out of 7 so i won't be able to attend but could you tell me how you heard about this workshop and at what level you are involved (PM is fine).

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Old 7th Jun 2004, 05:00
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Maxalt: the accident at Little Rock, which was connected to a long duty day, resulted in the very first required, scheduled rest periods (8-hours/24) for flightcrew who are on multiple standby/reserve days in a row. Before that-you could never really predict when Crew Scheds could call us out!

"Crew Fatigue" finally was the primary cause of a US accident, as I stated recently somewhere on Pprune. The (US) NTSB showed considerable courage, finally having the b---s to stand up to the FAA on the fatigue issue. Don't know how the British or other Accident Boards stand on safety recommendations versus cost/benefit analysis and national politics (the classic NTSB vs FAA dispute). Of course these people are all career bureaucrats, some are political appointees, chosen by the highest levels...

This watershed event involved a Connie Kalitta charter (cargo) crew. It was my impression that the Captain had slept a few hours the previous afternoon-they were up all night, and the DC-8 cartwheeled at Guantanamo Bay NAS, Cuba. Don't know if the sun was already shining into squinting, very dry, red eyes. The approach supposedly requires a very close turn from base to final approach, with very little time to set up a stable approach, because of Cuban airspace limitations. Another crew with a major US airline barely kept a DC-10 on the runway there-it might have been their first time there. For me to land from a single-engine approach in the simulator might look almost like that.

Last edited by Ignition Override; 7th Jun 2004 at 05:10.
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Old 8th Jun 2004, 14:47
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i scared myself to death one night when i was flying as a freightdog in the usa. i woke up after hearing my callsign by atc saying: it looks like you are 7nm off course. there was no (working) autopilot on that plane and i was flying in mountainous area. i knew the dangers about fatigue and i had slept well before my flight, but once the body decided to go to sleep, there isnt much you can do about it.

are there more pilots on this forum who have experienced this and want to talk about it?

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Old 9th Jun 2004, 07:43
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check the website <www.casa.gov.au> there will be a Discussion Paper there shortly addressing Fatigue Risk Management. The DP will lead into legislation within the next 12-18 months requiring operators in Oz to take fatigue seriously. CASA has been working closely with a Uni in Sth Oz to get a definitive on the effects of fatigue on pilots. Some leading edge stuff from downunder.
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Old 12th Jun 2004, 22:52
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Pilot Fatigue

To all,

I would just like to say thanks to the pilots who replied to this posting, via PMs and on the forum.

It is a sad, but true fact, that nearly 70% of all commercial jet aircraft accidents are caused by 'Pilot Error' and a large proportion of pilot error accidents are caused directly or indirectly by Fatigue.

Unfortunately, flight data recorders cannot measure pilot fatigue, only the effects and consequences of fatigue, many major accidents caused by pilot fatigue never get reported by the aircrew, for obvious reasons.

By keeping the issue of 'Pilot Fatigue' in the open, airlines will eventually be made to realise that the responsibility is on them to take to issue of 'Fatigue' amongst its aircrew seriously and not to put commercial considerations before air-safety.

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Old 13th Jun 2004, 19:56
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There is a very direct relationship between the time you have spent on duty and the likelihood that you will have an accident.
If you plot the numbers from the little table in this article, you find that the curve increases rapidly once you get over 10 duty hours, so that by the time you get to 13 duty hours you are 3.81 times more likely to have an accident than at 8 duty hours.
Makes you think.

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