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Pilot fatigue...a victory, of sorts

Old 30th May 2017, 19:47
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I take exception to the claim pilots bring this on themselves.

Do you mean some pilots bring this on the industry?

The Captain in question did nothing to bring these events on himself - he made his employer aware of a safety risk, and then did the right thing, under immense pressure from the operator.

He was let down by his fellow pilots at that airline who mainly don't stand up for themselves, and then - to a degree - by his union.

I wonder how many of his fellows phoned up the union to insist they help him?

Dozens? Hundreds? Probably count them on the fingers of one hand.

There are good guys out there who do the right thing, but after events like this, there are probably less of them - not more.
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Old 30th May 2017, 23:09
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I think there are more and more pilots willing to 'do the right thing' and call it.
As an industry we are talking about it more than we used to so if a pilot says no to a duty he or she knows they are not the only one.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 07:42
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Originally Posted by Fire and brimstone View Post
I take exception to the claim pilots bring this on themselves.

Do you mean some pilots bring this on the industry?

The Captain in question did nothing to bring these events on himself - he made his employer aware of a safety risk, and then did the right thing, under immense pressure from the operator.

He was let down by his fellow pilots at that airline who mainly don't stand up for themselves, and then - to a degree - by his union.

I wonder how many of his fellows phoned up the union to insist they help him?

Dozens? Hundreds? Probably count them on the fingers of one hand.

There are good guys out there who do the right thing, but after events like this, there are probably less of them - not more.
Thats why I said the 'Pilots have brought this on themselves' I bet there was not one who rang BALPA. I bet there were plenty who said 'thats wrong, oh look another day off payment.' Company view, would be be 'ruin his career and no one will 'do the right thing' and therefore we will have compliant pilots who will operate via bending and snapping the rules ...(for rules read law).

As for the regulators, I bet if this case was looked into it would confirm what most of us already know.

Pilots have brought and will continue to bring this on themselves until we all have the willingness to operate 'professionally' at all times and not be bullied into operating illegally and fall for the 'but there is no one else available' sob story.

Last edited by onlythetruth; 14th Jun 2017 at 08:11.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 09:58
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Only the Truth: Well said.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 17:26
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Only The Truth
As for the regulators, I bet if this case was looked into it would confirm what most of us already know.
I suspect they have. There was no case to argue for fatigue only sleepiness - if your unsure call your BALPA rep to discuss the difference. It was a "bent" schedule and the Commander took the Company to task - well done to him I guess. But how many times has he used in discretion, how many times has he worked to max duty, max FTL limits - I suspect the TC Scheduling agreement gives him more protection than most. How many times has the Company helped him? I suspect many Pilots can sympathise with both sides - a storm in a tea cup gone horribly wrong.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 19:45
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I wouldn't be too critical of the regulator on here , you are likely to receive "words of advice"
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 20:03
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Really,..look forward to that then, as I understand it WE pay their wages.

Twiglet you say 'There was no case to argue for fatigue only sleepiness - if your unsure call your BALPA rep to discuss the difference.' You sound like you must be close to this case and or be medically trained to make such a statement re 'no case to argue'. Care to share with us all?
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 20:20
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Fatigue is an emotive word because it is written in the regulations and therefore invokes laws and the breaking thereof. Sleepiness is just being too damn tired to do your job properly. IMHO not employer should cause an employee, by their work schedule, to become sleepy during their work period. It has been commented on that some people can be so sleepy that their performance is reduced similar to alcohol or other medication. It would be illegal for us to arrive for work impaired in that way, but sleepy is OK. Why? because according to the powers that be alcohol, drugs and sleepiness are your own fault. In the first 2 instances I can concur, but in the latter there are circumstances outside your control that can cause sleepiness, and which are not helped by the roster schedule. Airlines squirm out of their responsibilities to pax by claiming 'out of our control, so not our fault.' If it's OK for them then it's OK for us.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 22:25
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I can only tell you that word was got to me after I posted on the Shoreham thread that they were going to come after me legally if I did not withdraw a post about the relationship between the regulator and those it is tasked with regulating.

Supposing that the pilots for a regulatory authority (not the UKCAA of course)were able to keep their licence current,obtain type ratings and choose some flights to operate with the airlines/ aircraft operators they are tasked with regulating. Is that a system ,that on the balance , would result in effective regulation or is is system where where perhaps, allegedly ,there might potentially be conflicts of interest and circumstances that create less than effective regulation?

You decide

Last edited by Nil further; 15th Jun 2017 at 12:41.
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 02:05
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There was no case to argue for fatigue only sleepiness - if your unsure call your BALPA rep to discuss the difference
Rubbish. ICAO and all respectable regulators have moved away from " you're not fatigued, you're just tired".
The ICAO definition of fatigue recognises this through definition."Fatigue is defined as a physiological state of reduced mental or physical performance capability resulting from sleep loss or extended wakefulness, circadian phase, or workload (mental and/or physical activity) that can impair a crew member's alertness and ability to safely operate an aircraft or perform safety-related ..."
Ie, if your performance is reduced through lack of sleep, or hours of wakefulness ( being tired) , then you're within the definition of fatigue.
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 09:10
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Framer: very interesting and thank you for publishing it. As I said, there are often circumstances where sleep deprivation is outside our control. You can do your best & fail through no fault of your own. That is human. I've worked with airlines who trumpeted the CRM philosophy that humans are subject to errors and need help in overcoming them. Those same operators trumpeted that their rosters were fatigue free and if you claimed to be below par it was your fault and was seen as an unprofessional negative against you. How contradictory and arrogant can it be? This culture, especially in the no fly no pay environment, causes great stress to the individual not to report unfit, and therefore might bring unsafe pilots into the flight deck. Imagine both guys being in this predicament, and add in a slight cold as well. There needs to be more sympathy & trust from upstairs.

Last edited by RAT 5; 15th Jun 2017 at 20:25.
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 11:51
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I understand that one of the periodic contributors to this thread has not disclosed that he is the subject of it.
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Old 21st Jun 2017, 16:33
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Originally Posted by Nil further View Post
I wouldn't be too critical of the regulator on here , you are likely to receive "words of advice"
How interesting.

From whom?
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Old 22nd Jun 2017, 08:27
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Word will be got to you that the regulator does not like your comments and that they will come after you legally if not withdrawn .

I made a post along the lines of the viewpoint that it could be argued that there were failures of regulation at Shoreham along the lines of my supposed scenario above .

"Supposing that the pilots for a regulatory authority (not the UKCAA of course)were able to keep their licence current,obtain type ratings and choose some flights to operate with the airlines/ aircraft operators they are tasked with regulating. Is that a system ,that on the balance , would result in effective regulation or is is system where where perhaps, allegedly ,there might potentially be conflicts of interest and circumstances that create less than effective regulation?

You decide


Word was got to me by the forum moderators that the CAA were upset by any suggestion that this perhaps symbiotic, alleged relationship could have allegedly played a part in any as yet unproven failure in regulation .

I was basically forced to withdraw as i cannot afford a legal battle with the CAA.
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Old 26th Jun 2017, 21:50
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This could be interesting...

...given the hours we work and the sleep we have.

Hundreds of thousands in the test pool:

What happens when you're sleep deprived? - BBC News
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Old 27th Jun 2017, 02:52
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Allowable discretion is the decision of the pilot. Obviously it is not compulsory or at the direction of the company. Failure to exercise discretion, which all company pilots have routinely done, would reasonably require some sort of pilot explanation. Non-discretion is treated by many companies as an adverse decision. Technically, it is not a decision at all.
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Old 27th Jun 2017, 03:23
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Failure to exercise discretion, which all company pilots have routinely done, would reasonably require some sort of pilot explanation.
I don't understand your point at all here. I certainly never explain or justify my decision not to exercise discretion and would consider it beyond unreasonable to be expected to do so. However, exercise of discretion implies an exceptional case, and certainly requires justification and explanation.
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Old 27th Jun 2017, 05:54
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the new normal

akindofmagic,

I accept your understanding of pilot responsibilities. I never ever had a problem, because I was also sure of my position. Another post by me on this thread indicated my own procedures to ensure I was the decision maker.

It sounds like you are in a good operation, unlike most pilots these days. The point was that if discretion is habitually exercised, airlines start to expect it as a right, which of course it is not. There is a problem if this situation goes on for many years and suddenly one pilot refuses.

Automatic discretion should never have become entrenched, but once it has, it is a bit late to change the trend without explanation. Especially when a pilot is dismissed, UK CAA fails to confirm a pilot decision and a court case is required to clear the air.

If fact, many pilots have come to accept this weird situation, as evidenced by little pilot support from colleagues and unions. Quite a change from when I retired 16 years ago.
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Old 27th Jun 2017, 12:41
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Many moons ago, at a very reputable UK airline, an unusual scenario helped redefine how captains exercised discretion. The day flight departed Scotland for a long out/back return. After departure a tech problem developed and Ops asked for a tech stop at home base in S.Eng. The a/c was fixed and a new duty time calculated with the delay & extra sector. The planned duty was not possible within FTL's, without discretion. The captain was at home base and said he couldn't depart knowing discretion would be required. The company said the discretion decision was taken at the end of normal FTL and not at the start. i.e. land en-route if you so decide. This was confirmed by CAA. Off they went and discressed back to Scotland.
What are the rules now?
Later in the season, a captain was on the last night of a very sleep disruptive 5 day block: the type where you started on an early and slowly got later and later until the last 2 were 'through the night' flights. Before the last out/back flight, long Canaries, the crew were woken up to be warned of a 2 hour delay for departure. The captain, who was tired, said he was going on duty at the time of the awakening phone call. To complete the duty would require the full discretion from the outset. The crew were tired due to the sleep disturbing roster block in an hotel. On route south the captain radio'd Ops to say they would not use full discretion. but would give them 1 hr: what was Ops request? Ops said continue to Canaries and if they so decided at the end of FTL +1 they could land in FAO on the return. That had been the captain's calculation. The captain radio'd Ops enroute south to confirm the plan; get off in Canaries, or land FAO. FAO was confirmed. The expectation from the captain was a SBY crew would be positioned to FAO in time for crew change and the initial crew could pax back on their own a/c, as there were seats available, and it would be duty not Flight duty. Later Ops radio'd back that the captain might consider getting off in Canaries, take min' rest, then operate back. OK, that they would do.
On arrival at TFS the crew prepared to get off, but the agent starting loading the pax and asking for fuel loads. Ops had not informed the agent and called the crew's bluff. The blood pressure rose in the flight deck and the end result was they informed the agent they would land in FAO and to inform Ops. Ops now had a 3 hour warning to sort it out. So they indeed did land in FAO. I don't know all the fine details of the financial outcome, but after the enquiry, the CP, once he knew all the facts, supported the captain.
Would that happen today? Perhaps in some airlines, but in the non-union cut-throat world some work in, I wonder. It took a senior well respected ex-mil captain to stand firm, and it was applauded by the rest of us. It also brought about a better understanding and relationship between Crews/rostering/Ops & management. Don't take crews for granted all the time. We all did what we could do to help as much as possible, but sometimes real tiredness took over and common sense had to prevail. That needed respect & trust from all sides. That's what needs recovering. Dream on.

Last edited by RAT 5; 27th Jun 2017 at 12:52.
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Old 27th Jun 2017, 15:56
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Rat5 that story is very like some others but in similar cases OPS then made crew stay on board with the pax, awaiting the replacement crew. Happened to me but after a spirited argument with the despatcher the pax were persuaded to de-plane to the terminal.
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