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Pilot fatigue...a victory, of sorts

Old 12th Dec 2016, 09:17
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This was not a victory of sorts.

This was a big financial blow to the airline concerned, and a kick in the teeth to the malicious management handling the case on behalf of said company. Perhaps sackings will follow.

It will hopefully set a precedent for other pilots to seriously consider legal action against their employers, where disgraceful and illegal behaviour occurs. Especially as regards fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion, and other common side-effects of today's crew planning.

The original story is by no means over yet....

Last edited by RoyHudd; 12th Dec 2016 at 10:32.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 11:49
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Mr Angry

My view is inappropriate use of the word fatigue that's all. I've suffered from fatigue for sure and I might be wrong as the report didn't include the Captains roster leading up to the event.
All too often the F word is used when sleepiness might be more appropriate e.g. the need to sleep.
What you say is very interesting, exactly what roster pattern were you on when you experienced fatigue and for the benefit of all of us how were you able to differentiate between fatigue and sleepiness.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 11:56
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It will be interesting to see if certain personnel keep their jobs or not. The CAA have shown their hand of indifference and disregard with respect to issues of fatigue. This leaves the airline management boards to self regulate, the results of which are sadly inevitable in the modern era of super greed. After years of ignoring the strain of fatigue and stress resulting in large numbers of pilots being grounded medically, Easyjet pilots voted overwhelmingly to strike on the basis of fatigue related safety risks(96%). The COO was shown the door in quick time but only after 5 years of tyranny overseen by the rest of the airline management board. Unfortunately, his lieutenants remain in place and BALPA let them off the hook on some vague promises of improvements. These people will only be shown the door if there is a financial penalty for their behaviour. Your health and ability to operate is a minor short term inconvenience to the steam roller of corporate greed. You have to look after yourself because nobody else will.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 13:05
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And what sort of supposedly safety conscious industry allows, no, requires pilots to fly when they are sleepy, (since we are only allowed to refuse duty if we are fatigued)?

Would the public accept lorry drivers, coach drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, operating if they were sleepy?

Fatigue forms include such physical indications of fatigue as 'blinking a lot', 'long blinks', 'staring into space', 'impaired situational awareness', etc. Sounds the same as being sleepy to me.

Last edited by Uplinker; 13th Dec 2016 at 11:03. Reason: typo
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 13:58
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So once I had a first officer fall asleep on left base to LGW.
Wonder if he was sleepy or fatigued. Whatever he should not have been operating.
Sleepy or fatigued bit academic IMHO.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 16:18
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Being a sportsman and a pilot, and having experienced what I would term fatigue & tiredness/sleepiness, I offer the following difference. To me, when I was sleepy it was difficult to think & concentrate and make clear decisions. When I was fatigued the same was true, but I include muscle tiredness and lethargy of movement.
I sure as hell knew I was tired, many times, in the seat. Adrenalin rose on the approach and then dissipated in the car park.
Coach drivers falling a sleep on long trans-Europe trips took years to be exposed. Tacho in the cabs to help combat potential tiredness of lorry drivers. In 80's we had company agreements about positioning taxi rides in the night. MAN - LTN in the middle of the night with a slumbering taxi driver at the end of their shift. All considered unsafe due to sleepiness. Us? No, we are TopGun stuff and big boys don't cry. This one size pits all is pure bollox. There in no buffer. When I was younger & fitter full o'beans I could handle a few night flights, a few earlies, a few jet-lagging long-haulers. In the latter years of my career (and remember we don't retire at 55 or 60 anymore) there is no way I could do more than 1 early and through the nights were a no-no. Every early & late shift you lose 1/2 nights sleep. 5 consecutive shifts is pure madness. On day 5 you are definitely sleep deprived. You get home for a few days off and just as your batteries are back fully charged and you are rested it's off again on the sleepiness merry go round.
I think the word 'fatigue' was introduced as a disincentive to use it. It is an extreme condition, difficult to quantify; very individual. It is where you are at the end of your limits. We are all different, but some muppet has made FRMS program and we are all supposed to fit in the box, neatly. It scares us to use the word, makes us feel inadequate. Well, if I haven't slept due to circumstances outside my control, e.g. hotel vacuum cleaners and slamming doors, neighbours dogs & BBQ's, and not to mention NYPD police sirens 24/7, then I consider I shall be fatigued by the end of the duty. If you phone crewing and say you are tired due lack of sleep it is logged as your fault. You have to use the word fatigued as defence. Even then a black mark goes in the book and you are one of the 2%.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 16:38
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^^^^^^^

Good post RAT5
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 16:43
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A recent tweet from a chief pilot I know:

Amused that the young crew members (half my age) have only just woken & look shattered despite 12 hrs sleep
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 17:53
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Who the gets twelve hours sleep?

End of a long duty, positioning to base, in uniform. I took the only vacant passenger seat, in the middle of three, between two fare-payers.. I fell asleep before the safety brief, and awoke sometime in the climb, gently drooling all over my uniform. Tired or fatigued?
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 18:14
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I think my point was the CP's belittling of 'effect' rather than recognising and investigating 'cause'.

Oh, and his interpretation of sleep is on-chocks to off-chocks.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 18:51
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name and shame those responsible managers.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 18:57
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The surprising thing is that the CP was the former CC chairman and should have received training from the union on matters such as this.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 19:13
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Well in respect of naming and shaming, one of the mangers has been identified on here on the 2nd page on a video link.

The other can be found here, there id is no secret
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/roger-sca...-samename-name
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 19:24
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Tired or fatigued?

Don't forget 'exhausted.' Been that too.

If I had a 1000 for every time the reply was , "but it's legal." or "but there's nobody else." I would still be knackered and not much better off.
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Old 12th Dec 2016, 20:24
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Fatigue to me is a legal term. Sleepy isn't. Fatigued means too tired to safely perform as an active duty crew member. We are all different, some have a higher threshold. That's why we have to have the legal framework for self-assessment. No manager or co-worker can tell me wether or not I'm fatigued, that's for me to decide.

And remember, we have to be fit until the last person has disembarked the aircraft that day. Until then anything goes. When you're coming in on your fifth day of getting up 3:45am and you have to go around because of a split flap with crap weather it's going to be tough going reading the QRH. And the authorities won't be there to hold your hand, they will ask you why you didn't divert to a longer field rather than land and go off the end. And the company will present 8 lawyers pointing at all the paragraphs in the company manuals stating why it's all your fault. Maybe you miscalculated the landing distance because your brain felt like regurgitated marshmallows, so what? You still did it.

Fatigue isn't just "am I too tired now?" it's "will I be fit enough to safely deal with the remainder of my day?"

Because you can bet your sweet posterior that IF you get an engine fire, an explosive decompression or a cabin fire that can't be controlled you will get it on day 5, after 3 hrs of sleep labouring with the equivalent IQ of a seagull. It will take you five minutes just to find the right checklist. Any company that pushes rosters that crew can barely sustain even with zero non-normal situations can be called many things but safety-minded isn't one of them. You're basically taking the chance that when something goes wrong it does so to a crew that isn't too tired to deal with it. They'll be tired alright, just hopefully not too tired.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 05:30
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Q.Once recognised, how to deal with fatigue without upsetting the company with an outright refusal?

A1. Call in sick. Don't give details. Provide medical certificate if required, from own doctor
or
A2. Explain to company that you are OK for a regular duty period, but you are doubtful about continuing into a discretion period due to recent long back of the clock duties etc. You are more than willing to operate the duty, but if unable to complete it due to delays, would they prefer to roster another pilot or provide a heavy crew? Your only interest is completing the mission. If company calls your bluff, at the point where discretion is needed, re-assess situation. Even if you decide you can continue, the company will not want the stress of possible multiple disruptions due to their risky roster.
or
A3. A poor choice, but accept the flight. Call in sick at the point where discretion would have been required to continue
or
A4. Worst choice, accept the flight and use maximum discretion even when you know that this is illegal
and
A5. Be a paid up member of your pilot union.
and
A5. Be sure to have years of respectful co-operation with rostering staff, including offering solutions to "there is nobody else". If you have 998 hours of the yearly 1000 hours already, ask them if a 4 hour delay would be acceptable to depart at 22:00 and tick over to 1000 hours when airborne, right on midnight. Or if there is a 03:00 phone call for an unexpected 03:45 departure, do your best. If your departure is delayed, catch up as much of that time as reasonably possible with reduced flight and ground times to avoid need for discretion decision. Crew will be happy to be with a captain who can get them home on time and rostering will see you as a reliable and valuable asset. A nice tick in the box if you are ever called in for a cup of tea.
and
A6. Always try to have alternative employment, happy working wife, low living expenses and money in the bank.
and
A7. Remember that you are taking your co-pilot and cabin crew along with you on this challenge. Every instance of discretion must include consultation with all of the crew. One time when you sign off from a partially completed mission, they will be more likely to remain in good humour.

The above is exactly how I manage illegal or suspect rostering attempts during my career. If you do none of the above, the discretion refusal challenge is a much more difficult.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 08:46
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A8. Leave said company if you cannot call in fatigued due to their poor rostering. The law states that you will not operate fatigued and to hide behind a list of other excuses masks the reality thus allowing the company to perpetuate the situation. If it's modus operandi threatens your position for reasonably upholding the law and upholding safety, then it would appear to be a thoroughly dangerous place to remain in pursuit of your career.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 12:22
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Let's get rid of the word Fatigue. It's too emotional, too scary, to 'at the limit', too individual, too open to contest via FRMS, etc.

It would seem to me that the root cause of this event is two fold. The preceding duties were very disruptive to sleep patterns. The longest duties were at the end of a tiring block. Daft. One root cause.
Then the 12.30 duty, which was the catalyst for this debacle, was planned at the limit with no buffer. For the past 35 years I've been hearing this cry from the troops: "why are the limits treated as the normal target?" This cry has been ignored by management & CAA's the world over.
Even the refused duty on the last day was a lengthy one, not a little jaunt around the houses. It was >11.00hr duty finishing after midnight and meaning another late bedtime.
It has been said by the FRMS 'experts' that the only way to counter sleep deprivation is long periods of sleep, not napping. Sleep deprivation is accumulative over a few days and can take more than one sleep period to recover; similar to jet lag. Rostering, being driven by the CFO, look at numbers & limits, not the reality of human/family behaviour. There is no way in reality that 12hrs from off duty - on duty will achieve 8 hours full & deep sleep in a family environment. It would need 15 hrs.
In late 80's I worked for a non UK outfit. Their roster rules were much better than my local (non-UK) ones. We were flying Scandanavia-USA & Africa. We were not tired. The minimum rest time was to be taken at home and there was 2hours allowed to travel to/from home. Each duty had a 'degree of difficulty' factor. This accounted for start time, end time, total duty time and any time changes. The rest time had a recovery factor that had to balance the factor of the previous duty. It was not necessarily the full rest after the duty; that was not always possible, but as the duty factors built up so did the required rest factoring. If there was a reduction in 'company' rest time, using FTL limits, then a credit was rolled over to the next rest period. The idea was to create a balance between work & social. It worked quite well for our limited network operation. It was an enlightened attitude. When I used to have my pre-JAA medical done by a national (non-UK) medical centre that did many more professions than pilots, the doctors said that a real ingredient of health is a good balance between work & social life. All my years in UK, and for a tight fisted small non-UK charter outfit, I never came across that attitude; indeed quite the opposite, no respect for family life at all.
In this day of earlies & lates, i.e. larks & owls, why are pilots not allowed to opt for one or the other. I'm lousy at earlies, certainly 5, especially in winter. Other guys much prefer them; yet in the safety conscious airlines they do not offer a fixed roster of one or the other. Thus some pilots are operating below par, and in winter you need to very sharp. There seems to be an attitude that pilots can not be seen to have any sway over operations and rostering. They will do what they are told and be grateful for it.
Vive la revolution.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 12:55
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If you leave every company that tries excess rostering, there will be nowhere decent to go. The idea is to definitely not call it the F word, no matter what. It is what you do to avoid fatigue, not what you call it.
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Old 13th Dec 2016, 13:10
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Originally Posted by RAT 5
Then the 12.30 duty, which was the catalyst for this debacle, was planned at the limit with no buffer
No. It was illegal by today's standards. Even after juggling the numbers the revised plan was still 20 minutes beyond max permissible FDP.
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