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Old September 13th, 2008, 06:31 AM   #1
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MISC | Pilot Fatigue Spurs Calls for New Safeguards

Pilot Fatigue Spurs Calls for New Safeguards
12 September 2008
The Wall Street Journal

Safety experts and regulators have long been concerned about the dangers of exhausted, overworked or downright sleepy pilots. But the problem is intensifying as financially strapped airlines try to squeeze more productivity out of pilots, who by most measures are logging more hours per month and flying more grueling schedules than at any time since 2001.

Many big airlines with new labor contracts bargained in bankruptcy -- or under threat of it -- have many pilots flying up to an extra 10 or 15 hours each month, closer to the 100-hour maximum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. That's in addition to layovers and time spent on ground duties.

Flight schedules that look manageable on paper often don't account for storms, air-traffic congestion or other potential delays that can make a long work day longer. In July, according to the latest government statistics, 19 U.S. airlines saw one quarter of all their flights, on average, arrive late by more than 15 minutes. And pilots say certain airlines schedule flight times at or just under eight hours -- the FAA-mandated limit that a pilot can be behind the controls per day -- on trans-Atlantic routes that regularly run longer, so they don't have to pay for an extra pilot.

Now, pilots and safety experts are stepping up pressure on the FAA to rewrite rest and scheduling regulations that basically haven't been updated since the 1960s. Critics say the rules don't reflect the current flying reality, and are based on outdated science that ignores the latest sleep research showing the cumulative impact of inadequate rest. At a hearing earlier this year, several National Transportation Safety Board members and staffers expressed concern that the U.S. was in danger of falling behind other countries in combating pilot fatigue.

After working more than 12 hours in a row -- inside and out of the cockpit -- error rates shoot up, complacency increases and communications become impaired, says Peter Demitry, a former test pilot and fatigue expert who consults for pilot groups. One symptom of fatigue that scientists are now studying is "micro sleep," when pilots become unresponsive for a few seconds or a minute, though their eyes are open.

The NTSB identifies tired pilots as one of its 10 "Most Wanted" safety improvements, linking at least 10 U.S. airliner accidents and 260 fatalities to fatigue since 1990. Hundreds more close calls have been reported to pilot unions and confidential federal safety databases over the years. Fatigue-related mistakes have included pilots forgetting to extend flaps before takeoff, inadvertently shutting down engines in midair, and losing track of a plane's position on final approach. In several cases, crew members have nodded off at the controls.

Airline officials say their own internal programs help counter fatigue and allow pilots to stop flying if they feel unsafe. And overall, jetliner accidents in the U.S. are at historically low levels, with the last crash of a wide-body jet occurring nearly seven years ago. New rules "have to be based on conclusive research, not anecdotal evidence," says David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade group for major carriers. "You shouldn't change regulations simply because there are times airplanes run late" and pilots end up working longer than anticipated.

But critics say new regulations are necessary to prevent incidents like one that unfolded in February. A flight operated by commuter carrier Go!, en route from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, encountered a serious problem as it flew over Maui: Both pilots were fast asleep.

Cruising at 21,000 feet with 40 passengers aboard a Bombardier regional jet shortly before 10 a.m., the pilots for 18 minutes failed to respond to frantic calls from air-traffic controllers. The jet overshot its destination, crossed the big island of Hawaii and headed southeast over the Pacific. After traveling 26 nautical miles beyond its destination, the flight crew finally responded, reversed course and landed safely, according to the NTSB.

No official report has yet been released on the incident. In a letter urging the FAA and the airlines to more closely monitor pilot fatigue, the safety board said the pilots, who had been on duty four and a half hours that morning, "were on the third day of a trip schedule that involved repeated early start times and demanding sequences of numerous short flight segments." The letter concluded the pilots -- who no longer work for the airline -- "unintentionally fell asleep."

Go!, a division of Mesa Air Group Inc., is cooperating with the safety board's investigation. The company declined to comment on the incident, and hasn't identified the two pilots.

Pilots say short commuter hops are often more tiring than long hauls. Schedules can entail half a dozen legs in a single day, sometimes requiring planes to go up and down in storms that aircraft on longer routes are able to avoid. Since many commuter flights shuttle between hubs and outlying airports, they tend to run late and start early. That means crews can end up with short layovers in the middle of the night.

The routine can become "take a shower, brush your teeth, pretend you slept," says Tom Wychor, an 18-year veteran of Mesaba Aviation Inc., a wholly owned regional unit of Northwest Airlines Corp. Mr. Wychor recalls, in the early 1990s, nodding off on approach to the Houghton, Mich., airport in snow and fog.

"I was bathed in sweat and scared to death," when the runway suddenly appeared, he says. Mr. Wychor had started early three days in a row, and flown numerous 15-minute hops between Houghton and Marquette, Mich. Mesaba declined to comment for this article.

When Mesa pilots reach a destination late at night, they often want to nap before climbing back into the cockpit for an early morning departure. But for crews on the ground four hours or less, Mesa won't pay for hotel rooms.

Pilots "call it a 'camping trip,'" says Kevin Wilson, a captain and union chief for the 1,400 pilots at Mesa, which flies for UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. He says pilots will sometimes curl up on a chair in the terminal "or sleep on the plane; I've done it once myself." The same crews then fly up to three more legs before calling it quits and getting their mandatory rest period.

Such punishing schedules are legal under FAA regulations. Michael Lotz, Mesa's president and chief operating officer, says the carrier complies with all collective-bargaining agreements, and its pilots can be scheduled to fly "as many legs" as the FAA allows.

"I've heard anecdotal stories" of pilots sleeping on planes between flights, he says. "We don't track that."

With this segment growing -- regional airlines now carry one in four U.S. passengers and operate half the country's scheduled flights -- fatigue issues are coming into the spotlight. Peggy Gilligan, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for safety, recently suggested the most taxing commuter airline schedules may be reassessed. "This may be another area where we need to pay more attention," she said in an interview. Years ago, the agency pledged to establish a single level of safety for large and small airliners.

Airlines say they'd prefer to negotiate with their unions to set acceptable work limits rather than having Washington-imposed solutions. Fatigue "isn't a tremendous issue" for the 2,000 pilots at Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which owns three commuter carriers, according to Wayne Heller, chief operating officer, adding that the airline's work rules are stricter than the FAA's. "If we have fatigue," he says, "it's due to unplanned circumstances" outside the company's control.

The FAA, reluctant to impose additional financial burdens on the ailing industry, has hesitated to rewrite fatigue-prevention rules. But regulators acknowledge that fatigue in the cockpit is a significant threat. In an interview, former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey calls pilot scheduling disputes "the third rail of aviation safety regulation." And in June, the agency convened a comprehensive fatigue forum for the first time, gathering international airline officials, human-factors experts and sleep researchers. FAA officials say they intend to evaluate material presented in the sessions.

Foreign airlines and regulators have broken new ground in recent years by taking multiple factors into account when setting work limits for pilots. For example, pilots who fly numerous short legs or have so-called "backside of the clock" schedules -- requiring them to stay up all night or cross multiple time zones -- generally stop working sooner and are guaranteed more rest between trips than those following less demanding timetables.

The FAA allows all airline pilots eight hours of scheduled time behind the controls per day, and up to 16 hours of total duty time, which includes wait time at airports between flights. The agency allows up to 30 hours of flight time weekly and up to 100 hours monthly.

But pilots complain there are no explicit limits for overall hours of duty per week. And while most airlines schedule longer overnight layovers than Mesa, and will reserve hotel rooms for their pilots, ground duties combined with travel to and from hotels can reduce time available for actual shut eye.

The FAA's attempts to update its fatigue rules date back to the mid-1990s, when the agency proposed a wholesale revision of pilot scheduling limits. The goal was to ensure a 36-hour period of consecutive rest each week in addition to daily rest periods. (Currently, the agency mandates eight consecutive hours of rest in any 24-hour period.) To placate airlines, the proposal also sought to increase maximum daily flight hours behind the controls to 10 hours from eight hours. That would allow carriers to use a single crew to fly round-trip transcontinental runs the same day. But after heated debate, the FAA in 1996 jettisoned the package and later compromise attempts failed.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks made it virtually impossible to advocate far-reaching safety initiatives, according to current and former FAA officials. Traffic plummeted and the industry, fighting for survival, was shedding pilots and aircraft at a breakneck pace. Like many pilot-union leaders, the agency shifted its emphasis to security matters.

Once the industry started to recover financially about three years ago, business and government couldn't agree on what changes to pursue. Advances in cockpit automation and onboard safety-warning systems were supposed to provide extra protections against human slipups. New routes spanning huge expanses of the Pacific drew more attention to fatigue issues on ultra-long haul flights.

In April 2008, safety board member Steven Chealander told Congress that "little or no action has been taken" by the FAA to grapple with fatigue, and agency officials "have not indicated any firm plans" to improve their track record. That's in dramatic contrast to enhanced fatigue-prevention measures developed for operators of trucks, trains and ships in the U.S.

Two months later, the NTSB reiterated calls to fight chronic fatigue after it was found to be a factor in last year's nonfatal crash of a Pinnacle Airlines Corp. commuter jet. The safety board determined that the captain, making his fifth landing on a short airstrip that day, had been working for 14 hours in mostly bad weather. Landing on a snowy Michigan runway, he failed to heed various warnings and didn't perform basic calculations before the plane careened off the strip. The captain "absolutely made some poor decisions," says Michael Garvin, Pinnacle's vice president of flight operations. The pilot couldn't be located for comment.

Some airlines have struck independent deals with regulators to modify their pilots' schedules. The FAA and Delta, for example, at the end of 2006, signed an agreement authorizing pilots to fly longer than normal shifts on certain non-stop trips between the U.S. and India. Lasting 16 or 17 hours one way, such ultra-long flights pose formidable fatigue issues. The deal includes extra precautions such as extended rest periods for cockpit crews before leaving the U.S., and two full days off in India prior to the return leg. The FAA's Ms. Gilligan said at the time that the voluntary pact was "a very good example of what we are going to do" with subsequent requests.

Frustrated by what they say are unreasonably long shifts on certain domestic and transatlantic routes, pilots at AMR Corp.'s American Airlines recently delivered a report to the FAA and the NTSB documenting individual flights that consistently take longer than scheduled. On selected trips from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport -- which normally operate with two pilots -- scheduled trip durations of eight hours or less were exceeded more than half the time, say pilots. If the FAA determines American isn't adhering to "realistic" scheduling rules, those flights would have to carry an extra reserve pilot.

FAA officials declined to comment on the matter. An American spokesman said the company projects months ahead to "set realistic schedules about what out real flying time could be," factoring in historical trends, prevailing winds, aircraft types, specific airport operations and other variables. The airline has previously disputed pilot data on flight times.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 03:40 PM   #2
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UN drawing up new safety rules to fight pilot fatigue
22 January 2009

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The U.N. agency that sets standards for air transport is drawing up new safety rules to take into account a silent killer: Pilot fatigue.

Over the past 15 years, nearly a dozen fatal crashes and numerous close calls have been blamed on pilot fatigue, whose effects safety experts compare with driving drunk. Pilot fatigue was a key cause of one of the deadliest crashes in aviation history in 1997, when a Korean AirBoeing 747 headed to Guam plowed into a hillside and killed 228 people.

Air safety organizations and pilot unions have for years been pressing for tighter regulation and enforcement of working hours and rest periods. They say scientific research has identified pilot fatigue as a factor in a fifth of all fatal crashes.

The International Civil Aviation Agency is now preparing to abandon current rules based on flight time limitations in favor of a completely new concept known as "fatigue risk management systems". These will draw on the latest scientific research into sleep and other factors affecting crew performance.

Fatigue is defined as a decreased ability to work due to mental or physical stress. Symptoms can include longer reaction times, short-term memory loss, impaired judgment and reduced visual perception. The new guidelines are due to be reviewed in spring and released later in the year, spokeswoman Sue-Ann Rapattoni said.

Safety experts expect the new systems to focus on closely tracking flight crew duty times as well as the duration and quality of rest periods, sleep cycles, nutrition and possible illnesses.

"The aviation business has pretty much outgrown the arbitrary flight time limits of the past (and) it is time to take a more thoughtful approach that uses what we know about fatigue to make the system better for everybody," said William Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation from Alexandria, Virginia.

Pilots complain that mandated rest periods are now only calculated according to the time spent in the air rather than total time on duty. A pilot's daily schedule might include only a short period of actual flying, but 12 or 14 hours of total time on duty -- including layovers, delays and so on. Rosters sometimes call for a crew to work three or four straight days in this way.

Furthermore, crew rest periods often include transit time to and from hotels and meal times, so that a nine-hour rest period could allow for only about six hours of sleep.

Patrick Smith, a U.S. based-airline pilot and aviation writer, says fatigue is a particular problem among regional carriers, where daily schedules can be brutal and layovers are often at the minimum legal duration. In contrast, long-haul passenger flights carry bigger crews and pilots take scheduled breaks, often in very comfortable rest quarters.

Pilots have proposed using simple measures such as cockpit naps to combat fatigue. Some national regulations already allow one pilot to nap while the other works during cruise, so that both are alert when landing.

Capt. Gavin McKellar, chairman of the accident analysis committee of the London-based International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations, cited the Korean Airlines crash as an example of cumulative fatigue. Before the flight, the pilot had flown from Seoul to Australia and back, to Hong Kong and back and then on to Guam, all with only a few hours of rest, he said.

"Chronic fatigue is a factor in causing accidents and incidents much more than it is given credit for," McKellar said. "Its debilitating effects are just as, if not more potent than alcohol."

In a 2004 crash in Missouri, which killed 13 people, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the crew's tiredness after spending 14.5 hours on duty had "likely contributed to their degraded performance." And in their report on an accident in Halifax, Canada in 2004, in which seven people died, Canadian investigators concluded that the pilot had typed incorrect information into his plane's computer after spending 19 hours on duty.

Air transport regulators around the world have been criticized for being too lenient with airlines and not enforcing regulations that address pilot fatigue until a crash occurs. Many carriers in the United States, Europe and Asia, frequently make rosters for crews based on the upper limit of flying time for a pilot, said Philip von Schoppenthau, secretary-general of the Brussels-based European Cockpit Association, a continentwide pilots' union.

In Europe, for instance, current flight time regulations allow for a maximum duty period of 13 hours. Even this can be extended by an hour twice a week, according to a guide issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

"I certainly wouldn't want to be a passenger on the last flight of a pilot who is on the end of his third consecutive 60-hour duty week," von Schoppenthau said.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 04:09 PM   #3
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Indian pilots count on cabin crew to stay awake
23 January 2009
Agence France Presse

Indian pilots have a new weapon to combat mid-flight fatigue: talking with their cabin crew.

India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has issued some guidelines after recent incidents of pilots dozing off and veering off their flight paths, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Friday.

The orders instruct cabin crews of all domestic airlines to talk to pilots every half hour to keep them awake, and to keep speaker volume high so that pilots can hear air traffic controllers.

The instructions also reiterate general safety measures for cabin crew such as taking regular rest periods and limiting the length of each shift.

Last year the pilots of a Mumbai-bound Air India flight reportedly fell asleep and overshot their destination.

An official with the DGCA denied that there was a problem with Indian pilots falling asleep and said it was normal for the cockpit crew to feel drowsy.
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Old April 29th, 2009, 02:03 PM   #4
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Pilots rest plan dropped --- U.S. regulator ends long-haul initiative as airlines fight it
16 March 2009
The Wall Street Journal Asia

After years of disputes with airlines over ways to reduce fatigue in the cockpit, federal aviation regulators last week withdrew a proposal mandating extra rest for U.S. pilots flying the longest international routes.

The Federal Aviation Administration's decision jettisons, at least for the time being, a policy that senior officials had championed as an important safety measure. By establishing new standards for the longest routes, the agency had hoped to set a precedent for addressing the broader issue of pilot fatigue throughout the industry. The agency had been pushing for additional rest for pilots before, during and after these long-haul runs.

The airline industry opposed the initiative, which could have required some carriers to redesign cabins to provide additional sleeping areas for flight crews. Less than a month ago, the FAA asked a federal judge to throw out industry challenges to enhanced crew rest on nonstop flights lasting 16 hours or longer.

But earlier last week, the agency informed airlines, and pilot unions, that it was dropping the idea after reviewing industry comments. "We remain committed to addressing the issue of fatigue" on such flights, an agency email said, "but believe additional data is necessary."

An FAA spokeswoman said Friday the agency will "work with airlines in the next year to gather data that will help us determine the safety requirements for these flights."

Although a number of carriers have indicated they will voluntarily comply with some provisions, it is still a setback for FAA efforts to use the latest research findings to revise pilot-scheduling rules that basically haven't been updated for decades. Various FAA initiatives have stalled over the years as a result of disagreements between airlines and pilot groups.

The impasse over these routes, such as direct flights from Chicago to Delhi, comes as outside experts express concern that tired and sleepy pilots are one of the major safety issues confronting U.S. commercial aviation.

On flights lasting longer than eight hours, additional pilots typically are assigned to relieve crew members. But when nonstop flights are scheduled for 16 hours or more, even four-person cockpit crews work beyond that traditional eight-hour-a-day limit.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 02:43 PM   #5
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There's speculation pilot fatigue caused the EK's A340 tailstrike at MEL.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 06:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
There's speculation pilot fatigue caused the EK's A340 tailstrike at MEL.
Weight error caused Australia plane scare: officials
30 April 2009
Agence France Presse

Incorrect weight data on an in-flight computer caused the tail of an Emirates plane to scrape the runway during take-off from an Australian airport, officials said Thursday.

The Dubai-bound Airbus A340 was forced to make an emergency landing an hour after taking off last month at Melbourne airport when the crew received a tail strike alarm.

Smoke began to enter the rear of the cabin as flight EK407 circled the airport for more than 30 minutes to dump fuel before landing safely and without any injuries. There were 257 passengers and 18 crew on board.

A preliminary investigation by Australia's air safety regulator found that the weight was entered incorrectly into the onboard computer.

"The result... was to produce a thrust setting and take-off reference speeds that were lower than those required for the aircraft’s actual weight," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.

The plane's tail was seriously damaged as the captain manually increased thruster pressure, scraping the rear fuselage along the tarmac and the grass verge beyond the runway.

An internal Emirates investigation had prompted review in a number of areas, including the potential introduction of a double-entry system for flight computers "to protect against single data source entry error," the ATSB said.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 12:32 PM   #7
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http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/sto...2-2862,00.html

This is what I was refering too, but yours is dated 30th, so that's probably the latest on the issue.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 08:40 AM   #8
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Senators ask inspector general to investigate FAA safety regulation at regional airlines
19 May 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Four senators, including the chairman of the Senate's aviation panel, have asked a government watchdog to investigate safety enforcement at regional airlines.

In a letter released Tuesday, the senators told Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel that the circumstances of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 near Buffalo in February raised questions about the Federal Aviation Administration's enforcement of regulations related to pilot training and crew rest at regional carriers

"Adequate pilot training and rest is a basic prerequisite to make certain the air transportation system achieves a high level of safety," the letter said. "Such regulations, however, must be paired with vigorous FAA oversight of airline compliance to have a credible effect."

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-.N.D., chairman of the commerce committee's aviation subcommittee, also raised the issue with Randy Babbitt, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to head the FAA at a confirmation hearing Tuesday. Dorgan said he was "just furious" about testimony during a National Transportation Safety Board hearing last week suggesting that flaws in pilot hiring and training, as well as fatigue, may have contributed to the crash, which killed all 49 people aboard and one man on the ground.

Dorgan asked Babbitt if the same safety standards that apply to larger airlines also apply to regional carriers.

Babbitt, a former Air Line Pilots Association president and one time Eastern Airlines pilot, said there once were less rigorous standards for regional carriers, but changes he helped develop in the early 1990s were supposed to bring regional airlines up to the same safety standards as larger carriers.

Dorgan said he plans to hold a hearing June 10 on safety at regional airlines.

Other senators signing the letter were Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; the committee's senior Republican, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and the aviation subcommittee's senior Republican, Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who met privately with Babbitt just before the confirmation hearing, said he received assurances from Babbitt that he will look into FAA's regulation of pilot work hours at regional airlines to see if they lead to fatigue.

"I told him it seems to me they underpay and overwork their pilots," Schumer said in an interview. "He talked to me about how horrible it is. ... He talked about how if you're tired because you've flown across country, that's the wrong thing. He said he would look at it all. He said he was passionate about pilot fatigue."

Executives for regional airlines, meeting in Salt Lake City on Tuesday for an industry convention, defended the experience and professionalism of their pilots, saying the NTSB hearing had skewed public perception.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there," said Joseph D. Randell, president and CEO of Air Canada Jazz. "Anybody with an agenda will use it."

Members of Congress said they were stunned by the salaries of the Flight 3407 pilots, who were employees of commuter airline Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas, Va., which operated the flight for Continental.

NTSB investigators calculated that co-pilot Rebecca Shaw was paid just over $16,000. Colgan officials testified that captains such as pilot Marvin Renslow earn about $55,000 a year. The company later said Shaw's salary was $23,900 and that captains earn about $67,000.

The twin-engine turboprop experienced an aerodynamic stall as it neared Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Testimony and documents indicate Renslow and Shaw made a series of critical errors.

Shaw lived with her parents near Seattle and commuted across the country the night before the crash to report to work at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The pilots may have tried to snatch sleep before the flight in an airport crew lounge, which is against company policy.

------

Associated Press Writer Paul Foy in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #9
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Aviation Unions Raise Concerns
1 June 2009
Air Safety Week

The nation's aviation labor unions told Congress recently that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must improve its labor management relations after a contentious eight years under the Bush administration while at the same time address flight crew fatigue and tighten monitoring of foreign repair stations.

At a Senate aviation subcommittee hearing on the FAA reauthorization bill, Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), told the panel restoring relations with the FAA is only possible with a new collective bargaining agreement. Air traffic controllers have been working under FAA-imposed work and pay rules since 2006 after the Bush administration rejected NATCA's call for mediation and walked away from the bargaining table.

Said Forrey: "A resolution to the dispute is critical to stabilizing the controller workforce, restoring a collaborative working relationship between controllers and the FAA. Not only are controllers working longer on position, but the workload during that time has increased as well. A controller working without an assistant is responsible not only for communication with aircraft, but also for coordination with other controller positions and facilities, as well as updating flight progress information."

Mediation aimed at ending the ongoing contract dispute between the FAA and the NATCA is now ongoing. Both parties signed a process agreement to move the negotiations forward. The agreement provides for extensive mediation sessions and for binding resolution of any unresolved issues.

"One of my highest priorities, since coming to DOT, has been to resolve this issue so that we can move forward to make our commercial aviation system even better than it already is," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in announcing that Jane Garvey, a former FAA Administrator, would lead the mediation team.

Garvey is heading the mediation as part of a three-member panel that also includes Mediators Richard Bloch and George Cohen, who have extensive experience in mediating high profile disputes.

It is expected that the bargaining will continue through early June 2009.

At the same time, Tom Brantley, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), said change must be made in the contract negotiations process with the FAA. For the past six years, four PASS bargaining units have been at an impasse with the FAA.

Stated Brantley: "Over the past several years, labor-management relations within the FAA have been largely dysfunctional. This has resulted in low employee morale, stressful working conditions and overwhelming tension between labor and management--all of which impact the productivity of FAA employees and the efficiency of the aviation system."

Air Line Pilots Association President Captain John Prater and William McGlashen, assistant to the president of the Flight Attendants (AFA), both called on the FAA to address the issue of flight crew fatigue.

Said Prater: "One of the many hardships that the post-9/11 era brought to airline flying is pilots flying right up to the FAA regulatory limit. This has resulted in adverse safety impacts, fatigue, and more stress. Sixteen-hour domestic duty days are facts of life for many airline pilots."

McGlashen said "fatigue is a very real and serious concern for the flight attendant workforce in this country as well. As the deep concessions demanded of flight attendants during the recent and ongoing financial turmoil of the airline industry have taken hold it has become clear that airline management hopes to keep our members working for as long as possible with greatly reduced time off between duty."

Flight attendants, he continued, are so exhausted that they have in some cases forgotten to perform critical safety functions, including the arming of doors and even fallen asleep on the jump seats. "Even more troubling is that the FAA continues to allow the carriers to schedule reduced rest periods, making them more routine, and has failed to recognize or show any concern for the impact that flight attendant fatigue has on the overall safety of the aviation system," he testified.

Machinists (IAM) Vice President Robert A. Roach Jr. said "the aviation industry is at a crossroads. Thirty years of airline deregulation, reckless management decisions and more than a hundred bankruptcies have left it hobbled. Airline workers have shouldered more than their fair share to help revitalize their employers and their industry.

"As a consequence of putting dollars ahead of sense, maintenance of U.S. aircraft has been exported across the globe, at a faster pace than the FAA could respond. The FAA needs adequate funding to hire a sufficient number of inspectors to ensure aviation maintenance safety at home and abroad...to safeguard the U.S. aviation industry," Roach believes.

That same sentiment was expressed by Ken Hall, vice president at large, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who said "U.S. air carriers have ever- increasing amounts of significant maintenance performed on their aircraft by FAA-certified foreign repair stations or their contractors that are not subject to the same safety and security standards as domestic repair stations. This trend has eroded passenger safety, increased homeland security risk, and decimated a skilled workforce of American aircraft mechanics."

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require more inspections of aircraft repair stations outside the U.S. The language contained in the FAA reauthorization bill is opposed by the European Union. The U.S. Senate must still consider the provision.

The provision requires for the first time that FAA workers inspect at least twice annually any overseas maintenance facility used by American airliners. Currently, the FAA relies heavily on inspections by its foreign counterparts.

It also requires foreign workers to submit to the same drug and alcohol testing required of U.S. workers.

The European Commission has threatened to pull out of a pending aviation safety agreement unless the provision is dropped. A key part of that agreement stipulates that the U.S. and European Union aviation safety bodies have comparable safety requirements and inspection regimes.

William Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, said: "we have seen no evidence whatsoever that aircraft maintenance performed by non-U.S. repair stations is any less safe than that performed within the U.S., provided the repair stations and personnel are properly certificated and regulated. We would be very concerned about any interference in the carefully crafted international system of reciprocal recognition of airworthiness determinations."

Other provisions of the FAA reauthorization bill would: require the FAA to hire more safety inspectors; create an independent office within the FAA to investigate whistleblower complaints; and, direct the National Academy of Sciences to study pilot fatigue.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 06:50 AM   #10
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WSJ: FAA Panel To Draft Rules On Commuter Air Pilot Fatigue
24 June 2009
Dow Jones News Service

The Federal Aviation Administration, following up on earlier pledges to enhance commuter airline safety, said Wednesday it will convene a panel to draft recommendations by Sept. 1 on new rules aimed at alleviating fatigue among pilots working for such carriers.

As part of its effort to ramp up commuter oversight, the FAA for the first time also has specifically instructed its inspectors to review the performance of less-experienced pilots, as well as those who flunked flight tests or require remedial training. In addition, federal regulators will "develop the authority and processes" to ensure that contracts between major airlines and their commuter partners mandate sharing of safety practices, according to FAA documents released Wednesday.

To better identify pilots with repeated lapses in various training settings or at different carriers, the agency called on airlines and unions to commit, by July 31, to work together to produce more exhaustive background checks of pilots. The FAA called for an industry-wide policy to require that airlines obtain all FAA records pertaining to an individual pilot before hiring. Currently, airlines must obtain individual waivers from pilots to review their comprehensive training records.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site, WSJ.com.)

The moves were prompted by fallout from the Feb. 12 crash of a commuter airliner outside Buffalo, N.Y, which killed 50 people.

The aviation rule making committee dealing with crew-scheduling and fatigue issues will consist of regulators, airline representatives and labor leaders. It is slated to be convened by mid-July, with an ambitious deadline of finishing its deliberations in roughly 60 days.

The multi-faceted announcement comes less than two weeks after FAA chief Randy Babbitt presided over an industry-wide summit on commuter airline safety held in Washington. Mr. Babbitt emerged from the summit saying he hoped to move quickly on several fronts, including drafting tougher rules on pilot fatigue within months.

Congressional and public concerns about commuter airline safety have grown since the Feb. 12 crash of a Colgan Air Inc. plane while on approach to land at the airport in Buffalo. Investigators discovered that the captain of the turboprop, flying under contract to serve Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL), failed a number of flight-proficiency tests in his career. The crash also highlighted questions about adequate crew rest and pay for many commuter pilots.

"The FAA is making pilot fatigue a high priority and will work rapidly to develop and implement a new flight time and rest rule based on fatigue science and a review of international approaches to the issue," the agency said in a statement Wednesday. The FAA said it intends to hold at least 10 regional safety forums to firm up previous commitments by airlines, unions and other interest groups. The FAA also promised to work with lawmakers who are working on a variety of bills to enhance commuter-airline safety.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #11
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US issues final report on 'sleeping pilots' case
3 August 2009

HONOLULU (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed an initial finding that the captain and first officer of a flight that overflew its destination in Hawaii inadvertently fell asleep while the plane was on autopilot.

The NTSB on Monday issued its final report in the case of a 2008 go! airlines flight from Honolulu that overflew Hilo International Airport by 30 miles (48 kilometers).

A contributing factor in the incident was the captain's previously undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that likely caused him to experience chronic daytime fatigue and contributed to his falling asleep during the Feb. 13, 2008, flight, the NTSB said.

Another contributing factor was the flight crew's then-recent work schedules, which included several consecutive days of early morning start times, it said.

The day of the incident "was the third consecutive day that both pilots started duty at 0540," the final report said. "This likely caused the pilots to receive less daily sleep than is needed to sustain optimal alertness and resulted in an accumulation of sleep debt and increased levels of daytime fatigue."

"The effect of early start times on sleep is well documented," the NTSB said.

"A 1998 National Aeronautics and Space Administration Report, 'Flight Crew Fatigue II: Short-haul fixed wing air transport operations,' for example, concluded that requiring early report times makes it more difficult for crew members to obtain adequate sleep," it said.

The NTSB also cited a 1998 report published by North Atlantic Treaty Organization Research and Technology Organization that concluded "pilots reporting before 0600 had a significantly shorter total sleep time, impaired sleep quality, and impaired performance both preflight and at top of descent."

Flight 1002, with 43 people aboard, passed over Hilo International Airport at 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) and continued straight on over open ocean before the pilots awoke and landed the plane safely.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 06:13 PM   #12
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US gov't struggles to find answer to pilot fatigue
1 September 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Current U.S. rules for how many hours pilots can be scheduled to work were written in an age of propellor-driven planes. Officials back then defined a reasonable work day for a pilot without a scientific understanding of fatigue and well before the modern airline industry.

Finding ways to prevent pilot fatigue has stymied federal regulators and the airline industry for decades. The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending since 1990 that rules on how many hours pilots can be scheduled to work be updated to reflect modern research and take into account early starting times and frequent takeoffs and landings.

On Tuesday, a committee made up of airline officials and union leaders is expected to deliver recommendations for updating the regulations. Although Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt has promised to vet those recommendations swiftly and turn them into a formal proposal by the FAA, the process will at a minimum take months to complete.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said she does not expect the suggestions to be offered Tuesday to address all the issues that are part of the fatigue problem, but she hopes they will supply a foundation. "You have to build all the rest of the house around it," she said.

Some members of Congress, though, don't trust the FAA to finally come to grips with the problem. Besides forcing the agency's hand, a bill proposed by lawmakers would require airlines to use fatigue risk management systems -- complex scheduling programs that alert the company to potential fatigue problems.

After the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bill earlier this month, Chairman James Oberstar ran through a list of the airline crashes in recent decades.

"The common thread running through all of it is fatigue," said Oberstar. "We have many experiences of the flight crew, the cabin crew, who in cases of emergency were just so numb they couldn't respond instantly to a tragedy at hand."

Linda Zimmerman, a retired Ohio teacher whose sister died in a 2004 regional airline crash in Kirksville, Missouri, said the government's slow response saddens her.

"So many people have died and they haven't done anything about it," Zimmerman said.

Corporate Airlines Flight 5966 was preparing to land on Oct. 19, 2004, when the twin-engine turboprop slammed into trees. The pilots and 11 passengers were killed. Two injured passengers survived by jumping from the plane moments before it was engulfed in flames.

The NTSB said the pilots failed to notice that their plane had descended too quickly because they failed to follow procedures and engaged in unprofessional cockpit banter. But the board also said the captain and first officer probably were exhausted -- they were completing their sixth flight of the day, had been on duty more than 14 hours and had flown three trips the day before.

Studies show exhaustion can impair a flier's judgment in much the same way alcohol does. It's not uncommon for overtired pilots to focus on a conversation or a single chore and miss other things going on around them, including critical flight information. In a few cases, they've just fallen asleep.

Last year, two Mesa Airlines pilots conked out for at least 18 minutes during a midmorning flight from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, as their plane continued to cruise past its destination and out to sea. Air traffic controllers were finally able to raise the pilots, who turned around the plane with its 40 passengers and landed it safely.

NTSB said that even though the pilots had not been working long that day, they were clearly fatigued. They cited the pilots' work schedules -- the day of the incident was the third consecutive day that both pilots started duty at 5:40 a.m. -- and said the captain had an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea.

FAA rules on how many hours an airline pilot may fly or be on duty before he must rest have been virtually unchanged for nearly a half-century, mainly because if airlines have to allow their crews more rest, they would have to hire more crews.

An FAA effort to tackle the issue in the mid-1990s foundered because airlines wanted concessions from pilots in return for reducing flying hours, and the pilots unions wouldn't go along. The agency proposed a new rule, but it has languished for years without final action.

NTSB's investigation of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 on Feb. 12 near Buffalo, N.Y., killing 50, has spotlighted the long hours, low pay and long-distance commutes of regional airline pilots.

It's not clear where the captain of Flight 3407 slept the night before the crash, but it appears he may have tried to nap in a busy airport crew room where his company -- regional carrier Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas, Virginia, which operated the flight for Continental -- kept bright lights on continuously to discourage extended sleeping. The first officer commuted overnight from her home near Seattle to Newark, New Jersey, to make the flight to Buffalo.

Current rules say pilots can be scheduled for up to 16 hours on duty and up to eight hours of actual flight time in a day, with a minimum of eight hours off in between. They don't take into account that it is probably more tiring for regional airline pilots to fly five or six short legs in seven hours than it is for a pilot with a major airline to fly eight hours across the Atlantic to Europe with only one takeoff and landing.

One way to compensate would be a "controlled napping" policy, based on NASA research more than two decades ago. It found that pilots were more alert and performed better during landings when they were allowed to take turns napping during the cruise phase of flights. Other countries have adopted the policies, but the FAA has not.

According to Curtis Graeber, who ran NASA's fatigue research program for 10 years, some high-level officials worried that controlled napping would become the butt of jokes by late-night comedians.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 08:52 AM   #13
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FAA to Propose New Fatigue Rules
16 September 2009
The Wall Street Journal Online

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose changes to two of the most hotly contested issues involving cockpit fatigue, as part of a broader effort to revamp decades-old limits on how long commercial pilots can stay behind the controls.

The proposed changes would affect ultralong-range routes flown by jumbo jets as well as short hops flown by the smallest turboprop aircraft.

Airline pilots have long argued that current regulations governing crew scheduling on these two types of routes -- which operate at the opposite ends of commercial aviation -- fail to adequately address safety hazards. But the FAA hasn't followed through with changes, partly as a result of opposition from airlines concerned about costly rules.

Now, the agency is gearing up for an overhaul of regulations governing flight hours and length of workdays for all U.S. airline pilots. The FAA wants to replace the current one-size-fits-all rules on pilot workdays with a new regime that takes into consideration the latest scientific research on sleep.

Under these new parameters, pilots' schedules would vary depending on the time of day, the number of takeoffs and the internal body clocks of crew members.

Ultralong-range routes and small turboprop planes have long been a source of friction between pilot unions and regulators. Defusing these contentious issues could help the FAA craft a broader compromise on pilot-fatigue rules acceptable to both pilot unions and airlines.

The FAA is likely to end what are, in effect, longstanding exemptions permitting pilots of small turboprop aircraft at Skywest Airlines and a handful of other regional carriers to fly as much as 20% more hours per month than the rest of the industry, according to representatives of regional carriers and pilots. Such a change, affecting planes carrying between 19 and 30 passengers, could force some carriers to hire additional pilots.

An FAA spokeswoman Tuesday couldn't confirm details about special limits for some carriers.

For nonstop routes between 16 and 20 hours, the FAA is leaning toward proposing additional restrictions, possibly including enhanced rest periods for pilots, according to people familiar with the matter. Current FAA regulations were written decades before the advent of such flights connecting U.S. gateways with India or other far-flung destinations.

Airlines have successfully challenged earlier FAA proposals to extend pilot rest before, during and after flying ultralong routes. Airlines are concerned that it could be expensive to comply with new requirements because it could require that additional pilots be assigned to these routes.

Continental Airlines Inc., which has gone to court against previous FAA rules on ultra long-range rest periods, is among the carriers collecting fatigue data from crews flying Boeing 777s. The results are expected to help shape final rest rules.

Agency officials have declined to comment on specifics, but FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has indicated that an industry-labor group appears "close to consensus" on recommending a spate of regulatory changes. The agency has said it would fast-track the proposals with the goal of issuing a final rule before the end of 2010.

Spokeswomen for Skywest, a unit of Skywest Inc., and the Air Line Pilots Association declined to comment on specific proposals.

Skywest, which operates more than 50 twin-engine Embraer 120 turboprops and has one of the most experienced group of pilots among regional carriers, hasn't scheduled monthly flight times to the maximum lately because of economic conditions, a spokeswoman said. Some commuter carriers were supposed to temporarily retain higher flight-time limits for their pilots when the FAA and Congress established a single level of safety starting in the mid-1990s. But the FAA allowed the higher limits to stay in effect.

Daily scheduled flight-hour limits are a maximum of eight hours across the board for all scheduled passenger carriers, regardless of whether they have different weekly, monthly or annual flight-time rules.

A Skywest spokeswoman said the airline can schedule pilots to fly up to 120 hours a week and 1,200 hours a year, versus limits of 100 hours and 1,000 hours, respectively, for most carriers.
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Old September 18th, 2009, 02:03 AM   #14
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Every one want to save money.If an airline can hire more pilots then they think they are in loss.Now they are earning 70 million then they will earn 68 million.What a loss ...lolzz
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Old November 26th, 2009, 05:17 PM   #15
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Pilots need to be truly awake
23 November 2009
The Globe and Mail

Almost two dozen Canadians have died in half as many years in aviation accidents in which pilot fatigue was investigated. It was also a likely culprit in the near accident of an Air Canada Jazz flight from Houston to Calgary in 2005, when a plane almost stalled.

Canadian pilots say that the federal government is not doing enough to guard against these mishaps and that current rules are outmoded. They cite workday hour limits – 14 hours within a 24-hour period – as being ineffective, especially because that day can be stretched by an additional three hours when there are unexpected problems, such as a need to de-ice wings.

Those rules do not account for a complex industry, where pilots work odd hours, split shifts or long-haul flights over multiple time zones. Sleep sometimes amounts to sacking out for a few hours.

Their concerns, documented by the Globe and Mail reporter Tu Thanh Ha, are akin to those of pilots in the United States and Europe with one major difference: In Canada, the argument for stricter rules has not generated political will. Pilot fatigue is simply off the radar.

Transport Canada says its norms are adequate. But the rules on fatigue were written a decade ago when less was known about its effects on concentration.

One does not have to read a raft of scientific studies to know that fatigue has become a code word for one's imminent demise. Signs on Canadian highways today bear this unequivocal message to motorists: “Fatigue Kills, Take a Break.”

The procedure for detecting fatigue now relies on pilots, who must voluntarily label themselves as being not fit for duty. This is like asking the intoxicated if they are capable of driving; the impaired are never the best judges of their own incapacity.

The pilot-fatigue problem has surfaced at a time when discount air travel has become the norm. With the customer as king, the airline industry has tried to adjust.

Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and low-cost operators – such as Britain's easyJet and Australia's Virgin Blue – are using mathematical models to help predict pilot fatigue. With that system, computers analyze a pilot's work history, the time lengths of work and rest, and then flag potential fatigue risks.

The European Union has tougher rules than Canada – a 13-hour daily maximum that is trimmed if more than two legs are flown or if a shift commences between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. – but is considering even stricter standards.

In the U.S., the crash of a Buffalo commuter plane last winter that killed 50 people revealed the brutal conditions faced by regional airline pilots, who are underpaid and overworked, and who hopscotch the country because they cannot afford to live close to their base. In that accident, the first officer flew all night from her home near Seattle to a Newark airport where the flight originated.

The Federal Aviation Administration has since vowed to develop regulations aimed at reducing the threat of fatigue in the flight deck.

In Canada, pilot fatigue is often a matter negotiated between unions and airline carriers.

But the safety of air travel should not depend upon the negotiating effectiveness of a pilots' union, but on the science of fatigue and how best to prevent it to protect the public.

It is a question of political will. To do anything less is to leave Canadians flying blind.
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Old July 5th, 2010, 06:14 PM   #16
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Pilot fatigue an issue, union says; 'Canada not meeting standards': Guidelines out of date, Ottawa told
28 April 2010
Canwest News Service

Canada is in violation of new international standards to combat pilot fatigue in the cockpit, the country's largest pilot union told parliamentarians yesterday.

Paul Strachan, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association, said Transport Canada's outdated flight and duty time regulations put Canada offside internationally because they don't take into account the latest research on why flying overnight is harder on the body than daytime flying.

The new requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Montreal-based United Nations civil aviation agency, came into effect in November, requiring member states, including Canada, to manage pilot fatigue based on best practices and scientific knowledge about flying and the circadian rhythm.

Canada's regulations, written in 1965 and updated in 1996, permit pilots to fly 14 hours in a 24-hour period, with specific guidelines for rest periods in between. Unlike other countries, the federal rules in Canada do not distinguish between daytime and overnight flights.

"Currently, we are not compliant with the ICAO stipulations," Strachan told MPs on the House of Commons transport committee probing aviation safety in Canada.

"The data is there, the science is there," he said of the physical toll of overnight flights. To emphasize his point, Strachan directed MPs to research showing the effects on a pilot of flying fatigued are similar to those of flying under the influence of alcohol.

"But although there are very strict laws worldwide to prevent pilots from flying under the influence of alcohol, Canada has no science-based regulations to prevent pilot fatigue, as mandated by ICAO."

In a statement issued yesterday, Transport Canada said it has "strict safety regulations for flight time and rest periods for flight crews" and these are "compliant with the principles laid out in ICAO's updated standards."

The department has committed itself to launching a review of its pilot- fatigue policies this summer under the auspices of the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council.

Transport Canada expects this process to take at least two years.

Strachan told MPs this approach resembled "body-bag safety policy" development because of an anticipated drawn-out process, during which there could be another fatigue-related accident.

"It's like you hit the ball and it takes you a couple of years to get to first base," Strachan said.

Air Canada pilots already have negotiated flight and duty time rules into their contract to reflect the latest findings on pilot fatigue and the circadian rhythm, but smaller airlines follow the Transport Canada regulations.

"There should be one level of safety," testified Barry Wisznioswki, chairman of the union's technical and safety division.
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Old November 4th, 2010, 01:00 PM   #17
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Private aircraft pilots report long shifts, fatigue
Workday sometimes extends past 14 hours allowed by federal rules

25 October 2010
USA Today

As their charter flight prepared to land last April, confusion reigned inside the cockpit.

An auxiliary engine had malfunctioned, and they'd gotten too fast as they approached the runway; then, as they aborted the landing, they accidentally flew to the wrong altitude, the pilots told the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System.

"When this started to happen, I was on my 13th hour of duty," the captain said in the report. To encourage honesty and prevent retribution, the reports do not identify pilots or employers.

It was about 8:30 p.m., and the captain had been awake since 5:20 a.m., the report said. The pilot's sleep the night before had been interrupted by a 2 a.m. phone call. The pilot had wanted to decline the flight because of fatigue, but kept quiet after being reprimanded on a previous attempt to pass on an assignment.

Fatigue among airline pilots has been a top safety issue, but the NASA reports show that pilots flying people on private aircraft and charter flights -- for which the federal rules are not as strict as they are for the airlines -- are also at risk:

*Last March, a pilot for an unidentified firm that sells shares in high-end aircraft for elite customers said the chief of safety had altered the rules to allow pilots to continue working past the normal 14-hour daily limit if they were flying empty aircraft. Such flying is allowed under FAA rules, though the agency is seeking to bar the practice at airlines. "While this might be legal ... it is certainly not safe," the pilot said.

*In May, a pilot reported that a charter company routinely violated federal aviation regulations, including pushing "the line pilots to fly to the absolute duty time limits on a regular basis, without regard to natural sleep cycles."

*In September 2009, a charter pilot reported working a 16-hour day. Exceeding the normal 14-hour limit was allowed because federal rules permit an extension for unexpected weather delays. Then, a manager ordered the pilot to fly the empty plane to an airport where it would be needed the next day, bringing the workday to 17 hours.

"Flight-crew fatigue was extremely high, perhaps more so than at any point in my nine-year professional piloting career," the pilot said. "I fear that should any of the last two flight segments have experienced an abnormal or emergency situation ... the flight crew would not have been in a position to ensure the best possible outcome."
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Old November 16th, 2010, 07:28 PM   #18
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Big Airline Association Attacks FAA's Proposed Pilot-Fatigue Rules
16 November 2010
Dow Jones

The major U.S. airline industry association on Monday blasted efforts to revamp pilot-fatigue rules, calling the government's proposals overly restrictive, politically motivated and scientifically flawed.

In formal comments filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Air Transport Association, whose members account for 90% of the country's cargo and passenger traffic, said the proposal's core elements are "operationally onerous" and would "impose unprecedented costs" without providing significant safety benefits.

The critical tone is bound to make it politically harder for the FAA to push ahead with its current regulatory package.

By opting to update decades-old rules controlling pilot work hours and rest periods, the agency sought to fashion a compromise based on the latest sleep research while offering some attractive elements to both labor and management.

But that balancing act appears to have failed. Pilot-union leaders previously split over whether to support the FAA's proposal, with some arguing that it gives airlines too much leeway to schedule pilots for 10 hours of daily flying.

Now, representatives of the nation's biggest carriers have come out squarely against the package for unduly restricting duty periods and mandating particularly stringent flight-time limits on those routes that tend to have delays. The ATA's filing also criticized U.S. regulators for failing to adhere to fatigue-prevention concepts embraced by their European and British counterparts.

Facing Congressional pressure to move quickly, agency officials will analyze and respond to the comments before deciding what to do. The process is likely to take many months and could drag on substantially longer.

The last time the FAA tried to rewrite its pilot-fatigue rules was 1995, and stiff opposition from airlines and pilot groups killed that effort.

Announced by the FAA earlier this year after months of intense discussions between pilot groups and airline representatives, the proposal aims to establish different rest requirements based on variables such as time of day and how many takeoffs and landings pilots are scheduled to perform before going off duty. Today, FAA rules don't allow for such flexibility.

The ATA agreed it faces a sweeping proposal, but called it a "wholesale replacement" of existing rules that threatens to jeopardize airline jobs and investment.

Regulators, among other things, want airlines to set predictable pilot work hours that adhere 95% of the time to previously-established flying schedules.

As expected, the largest North American pilot union weighed in strongly backing the FAA's initiative. The Air Line Pilots Association, which played a big role helping shape the proposed rules, filed its own response Monday. The group said the proposal "comports with scientific data and decades of professional pilot experience."

FAA chief Randy Babbitt, a former airline pilot and union leader, has put his prestige behind driving swift and dramatic changes in pilot-fatigue rules.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 08:01 AM   #19
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Pilot fatigue among factors noted in '09 Delta flight case
18 November 2010
The Atlanta Journal - Constitution

By the time a Delta Boeing 767 accidentally landed on a taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport instead of a runway, the captain had been awake more than 22 hours, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a new report on the October 2009 incident.

The flight, which departed from Rio de Janeiro for Atlanta late on a Sunday, was arriving Oct. 19 after 6 a.m. One of the three pilots had fallen ill, so the remaining two pilots conducted the flight without their customary break, according to the NTSB report released this week.

The crew had been on duty 12 hours, and the first officer had been awake at least 14 hours. The crew accepted a last-minute switch in runways --- called a sidestep. But they had not conducted a briefing on the approach and did not know that the approach lights and instrument landing system were not available for that runway. Also contributing to the incident were the combination of a variety of taxiway signs and light technologies on the taxiway.

The captain lined up the plane to the brightest set of lights he saw, while the first officer was attempting to tune to the instrument landing system.

Delta said the pilots have been retrained and are back to active flying.

Hartsfield-Jackson said it was in full compliance with FAA requirements for airfield lighting and signage at the time of this incident, according to spokeswoman Katena Carvajales. The airport is reviewing a recent requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration for intermixing of light technologies.
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Old January 28th, 2011, 12:28 PM   #20
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PILOTS ACT ON SAFETY
28 January 2011
The Daily Mirror

PILOTS will launch a campaign today to ensure the UK has the best safety record in the world.

The move follows a European Union ruling to increase their working hours, which they believe could endanger passengers. They say increasing pilot flight hours puts them at risk of fatigue, which is blamed for 15 to 20% of all aircraft accidents.

The 8,600-strong British Airline Pilots' Association said the ruling by the European Aviation Safety Agency would lead to an increase of duty times from 10 hours 15 minutes to 13 hours 55 minutes.

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of Balpa, said it would jeopardise air safety, which had steadily improved over past decades. He accused regulators of "taking their eye off the ball" and warned of a worrying trend on safety over the past year.

"British passengers, who have enjoyed the safest flying in the world, are now to be put at risk. It is as stark as that," he said. "At the same time as Europe is doing this, the United States government, concerned about growing pilot fatigue, is going in the opposite direction."

The pilots' campaign call, "Wake up. Pilot fatigue risks lives", will run throughout the 18 months that the EU has set aside to get the rules adopted. Balpa is to make submissions to the EASA and aviation authorities and plans to lobby Parliament next Wednesday.
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