Cecilie Larson sent me an interesting file on Pilot Fatigue. This very serious issue is probably one of the most critical factors in Airline Safety Today. While it's never just 'one' thing, the one thing that can impact a flight with a perfectly good plane, more than anything else, is pilot fatigue.
Cecilie reminded me of critical factors specific to Norway...
"Norway has one of the most challenging environment to operate aircraft in, most of the routes are short-runway-special ops and throw in some freezing fog, icy runways, snow, excessive crosswind AND pilot fatigue, I think you have the perfect recipe for disaster. That is why that 22-hour maximum duty rule just CANNOT be implemented, it would have a direct negative effect on safety."
The 2012 Barometer on Pilot Fatigue brings together several surveys on pilot fatigue carried out by Member Associations of the European Cockpit Association. Between 2010 and 2012, more than 6.000 European pilots have been asked to self-assess the level of fatigue they are experiencing.
The surveys confirm that pilot fatigue is common, dangerous and an under-reported phenomenon in Europe.
• Over 50% of surveyed pilots experience fatigue as impairing their ability to perform well while on flight duty.
• 4 out of 5 pilots have to cope with fatigue while in the cockpit, according to polls carried out in Austria (85%), Sweden (89%), Germany (92%) and Denmark (93%).
• A common indicator of the problem is that fatigued pilots are prone to fall asleep or experience episodes of micro-sleep in the cockpit. In the UK (43%), Denmark (50%), Norway (53%) and Sweden (54%) the surveyed pilots reported falling asleep involuntarily in the cockpit while flying. In the UK, a third of the pilots said to have woken up finding their colleague sleeping as well. 65% of Dutch and French pilots stated they have trouble with “heavy eyelids” during flight.
• Yet, fearing disciplinary actions or stigmatization by the employer or colleagues, 70-80% of fatigued pilots would not file a fatigue report or declare to be unfit to fly. Only 20-30% will report unfit for duty or file a report under such an occurrence.
• More than 3 out of 5 pilots in Sweden (71%), Norway (79%) and Denmark (80-90%) acknowledge to have already.
Austrian Cockpit Association
A 22-hour duty day? I concur with Cecilie, this must not be implemented. 17-hours awake is equivalent to .05 alcohol level. Are pilots flying drunk on fatigue?
When I asked Cecilie when this is happening, and if there was anything we could do, she said, "The proposal for the new regulation was published October 1, 2012. The process of having it implemented will take a while. Organizations and groups will tell the European Union what they think of it, etc. Check out Dead Tired for more info. That's the site for the lobbyist group European Cockpit Association trying to fight against this regulation. They also have a petition that can be signed."
You can read and download the entire report here: Barometer on Pilot Fatigue
What are your thoughts?
How rested do you want your pilots to be?
Did you sign the petition?
Together... we can make a difference on Safety
Enjoy the Journey... and remember to stay awake for it.