Scientific scrutiny needed in pilot scheduling regulations

As we recently reported, new regulations to standardize time limits for pilots flying across the European Union (EU) were proposed “in an attempt to reduce fatigue and enhance aviation safety”. Following the announcement, organizations like the British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA), were quick to criticize the regulations, pointing out that pilots could end up landing planes after being awake for as long as 22 hours.

BBC news now reports that the proposed regulations were voted down by the Members of European Parliament (MEP) transport committee last week. The rejection may have been influenced by a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) incident report which indicated that both pilots of a recent UK-bound flight had fallen asleep at the same time. The report suggested that the incident was a result of longer shifts creating “an insufficient opportunity for pilots to rest” but regarded it as “isolated”.  BALPA, however, might suggest otherwise as a survey conducted on their behalf revealed that over 50% of commercial pilots admitted to “having fallen asleep on the flight deck” and almost 30% having woken up “to find the other pilot asleep”.

A BALPA spokesperson commented to BBC that “rejection of the new rules reflected “pilots’ concerns about the way the rules had been put together without proper scientific scrutiny and underpinning evidence”.  Pre-departure procedures for flights involve rigorous checks and balances to make sure flight equipment is in optimal form before take off, but what about a pilot check?In the case of this British airbus flight, it was revealed that one of the pilots had only slept a total of five hours over the previous two nights, and this occurred under the supposedly more stringent existing UK rules. Regulations are important, but they need to be built around meaningful data, starting with a real understanding of the current state of pilot fatigue and a validated analysis of schedule change benefits and implications.

RELATED POSTS

Mining truck at a mining site.
,

Introducing the Fatigue Science 90-Day Pilot Program

When introducing a new initiative into a workforce, it’s important to prepare for feedback, change management, and policy development. With that in mind, Fatigue Science provides a 90-day Pilot Program to help implement Readi™ Enterprise Suite as part of your company’s approach to fatigue risk management.

Fatigue Science Customer Experience: Growing Sustainable Proven Value for Our Customers

It’s the role of the Customer Experience team at Fatigue Science to understand the needs of our enterprise customers and to work with them to achieve their goals.  Our customers want access to objective and actionable data for managing daily fatigue risks, as well as understanding the long term relationship between sleep and fatigue and their impact on their operations. The Customer Experience team not only helps customers roll out this technology site-wide, or company-wide, but we also help customize their data to make it configurable for their specific needs and requirements, and support them in achieving long-term health and safety benefits for their work force.  
,

How Drivers Can Get Better Sleep and Prevent Fatigue

Sleep deprivation affects all aspects of life—appetite, strength, emotional stability, and memory. On the road, it’s more than a distraction. It can mean the difference between life and death. Drowsy drivers come from all occupations and walks of life. It’s a threat everyone faces at one time or another. You’re driving home from work after putting in extra hours or a child kept you up during the night and your eyes just won’t stay open. The reasons vary but the results are the same—dangerous driving.