The FAA Pilot Fatigue rule has been splashed around the world. The government has taken a serious look at the impact of our fatigued pilots. The FACT sheet explains the changes. Unfortunately they are starting in two years, not now, and for some reason the freight operators don’t seem to count.
Will these rules solve the problem?
A few questions for you:
- Is it ever possible for pilots to be rested on international flights, flying the backside of the clock and sleeping on the plane?
- The FAA’s pending regulation change includes enabling pilots to be on duty for 17 hours with four crewmembers. Two of theses pilots take their rest at the beginning of their trip... quite often, just hours after they awoke from a good night sleep. Therefore, they will not sleep during their break, and often not resting on the entire flight. Will these rules impact the fact that half the crew won't sleep during their break due to the timing?
- 17 hours awake is equivalent to an alcohol level of .05. How many pilots are flying drunk from fatigue?
- Is it possible to schedule international flight crews in a way to not be fatigued?
One of my many airlines had called me at midnight on a day off and sent me on an International trip. All pilots were called at the same hour. None of us were rested. Why did we take the trip? Kids in college. Mortgages due. Pay cuts, and unable to make ends meet. Being good company people. A multitude of reasons, take a pick. It's very hard for a pilot to say, "I can't." At that hour we have coffee, wake up, and we're good to go. But at the other end of the trip, what seemed like a good idea at the beginning, turns out to not be such a good idea.
As I read the new regulations, I wonder, “Will this prohibit those midnight calls to crew members off duty?”
While the regulation states that the crew-members have the right to say they’re fatigued, there are airlines out there that “fatigue” is called the other F-word. What sounds good on paper, isn't reality in the workplace. Besides, the corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders. Right?
I was recently asked about commuting pilots and how we did this to ourselves. The problem is that airlines open bases, pilots move there, put their kids in schools and close the base. How often can a pilot uproot his/her family chasing the job? Then the housing crisis... who can sell their home to move anyway? Companies merge, seniority changes, positions are lost. Sometimes the commute is do to not wanting to disrupt our families any more than we have to. Sometimes it's pure financial infeasibility to move. So we commute.
I’m not sure what the answer is. What are your thoughts? How can we be the best we can be while working within the system? How would you fix this dilemma? Is it a problem?
Maybe we must realize that regulation can't fix this problem due to massive contingencies. Perhaps this should be a self monitored event. And yet, how do you turn down a trip when times are tough? A challenge.
General aviation needs to be aware of the power of fatigue as well, and not push themselves to fly in their not physically ready to.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Enjoy the Journey.
If you haven't had a chance yet, pick up a copy of Flight For Control. This question and more lurk through the pages.
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