Guide to Managing Fatigue
Three international aviation organizations have released a fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) implementation guide designed to aid commercial aircraft operators.
The guide — developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) — discusses the methodology and framework for implementing a fatigue risk management program and explains the scientific basis for FRMS.
“FRMS enhances safety scientifically and in consideration of today’s operational realities and accumulated experience,” said Guenther Matschnigg, IATA senior vice president for safety, operations and infrastructure. “This implementation guide now puts regulators, pilots and the industry on the same page when it comes to ensuring safe operations with optimum crew performance.”
FRMS, an alternative to traditional prescriptive flight and duty time rules, calls for flight and duty schedules based on physiological and operational needs. It takes into account the effects on the human body of time of day and circadian rhythms.
“The value of this document is that pilots, regulators and operators have all agreed to a common approach to the complex issue of fatigue,” said IFALPA President Don Wykoff.
ICAO adopted new international standards for FRMS earlier this year; the standards are due to take effect Dec. 15 (see “Say Again, Please”, ASW, May 2011).
Both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been reviewing their policies on fatigue. In late 2010, EASA published a notice of proposed amendment, to take effect in 2012, calling for limits on flight hours to be standardized among its member states.
The FAA published a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) on the subject in 2010 and is scheduled to issue a final rule in August. The proposal calls for increasing to nine hours — up from the current eight-hour limit — the minimum rest time for pilots before they report for duty.
In the aftermath of several reports of air traffic controllers sleeping on the job, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) have negotiated an agreement on recommendations for reducing workplace fatigue.
Under the agreement, the FAA will continue to provide breaks, “based on staffing and workload,” for controllers working on the midnight shift. FAA policy will continue to prohibit controllers from sleeping while on duty. Those working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be permitted to listen to the radio and read “appropriate printed material” while working, if their duties permit.
Both sides said they agreed that controllers must “report for work well-rested and mentally alert” and that it is the controller’s responsibility to notify a supervisor if he or she is too fatigued to perform assigned duties. The agreement also allows controllers to request leave if they are too fatigued to work.
The agreement calls for development by the FAA of a fatigue risk management system (FRMS) for air traffic operations. Planning must be complete by January 2012, according to the agreement. The FRMS will collect and analyze data involving work schedules to ensure that schedule design does not increase the possibility of fatigue.
A free exchange of safety information is vital to ongoing efforts to improve aviation safety worldwide, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said in approving a new code of conduct for the collection, sharing and use of information.
“Transparency and sharing of safety information are fundamental to a safe air transportation system,” said Council President Roberto Kobeh González. “The new code of conduct will help ensure that the information is used in a fair and consistent manner, with the sole objective of improving safety.”
ICAO said that the code consists of “guiding principles to develop a consistent, fact-based and transparent response to safety concerns at the state and global levels.” The code also is intended to encourage mutual trust among ICAO’s member states “by providing reassurance as to how the information will be used,” ICAO said.
Dagmar Witherspoon Chilman
Dagmar Witherspoon Chilman, a former vice president of Flight Safety Foundation, died June 6 in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., after a long illness. She was 88.
A native of London, she served in British intelligence during World War II, parachuting behind enemy lines to exchange information with the French Underground. After her third drop into France, she was captured by German soldiers; she later was rescued by Canadian troops and returned to England.
After the war, she studied at London University and moved, first to Bermuda, and later to Washington, where she worked for Flight Safety Foundation until 1983.
She is survived by a daughter, Carol Anne Williamson of Wiarton, Ontario, Canada; two granddaughters; three great-grandchildren; and two brothers, Allan Leweson of Lancashire, England, and Desmond Leweson of Larnaca, Cyprus. She was preceded in death by a grandson.
Safety Task Force
A special task force has been designated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) to review the safety regulation of Australian general aviation.
The task force, which is scheduled to begin work in mid-August, is expected to focus on general aviation pilot licensing, air operator’s certificates and other relevant safety requirements. Aerial agriculture will be the first area to be examined, and the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia will cooperate in the effort, CASA said.
“CASA is committed to being a proactive safety regulator, and we are always looking to make sure our regulatory regime is effective,” said John McCormick, CASA director of aviation safety.
The task force, which will be headed by CASA Eastern Region Operations Manager Peter John, is expected to operate for more than two years.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $1.05 million civil penalty against The Boeing Co. for “allegedly failing to correct a known problem in production and installation of the central passenger oxygen system” in 777s.
The proposed penalty was based on inspections conducted between April and October 2010 of nine newly assembled 777s. The FAA said that inspectors found that spacers had been installed incorrectly in the distribution tubing of the airplanes’ oxygen delivery systems. Improper installation can prevent the delivery of oxygen in case of depressurization.
In separate actions, the FAA proposed civil penalties ranging from $66,000 to $689,800 against 11 operators for a variety of alleged offenses.
The largest of the proposed penalties was against FedEx for allegedly violating U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for transporting hazardous materials.
The FAA said that, between June 13 and Sept. 4, 2009, FedEx failed on 89 occasions to provide its pilots-in-command with complete information on the hazardous materials loaded onto their airplanes. The FAA also said that, between June 18 and Aug. 26, 2009, FedEx had accepted four hazardous goods shipments that “were not accurately described and certified in the accompanying shipper’s documents.”
The agency said that the alleged violations were found during an FAA inspection at FedEx facilities at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
The FAA also proposed a $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran Airways for allegedly operating a Boeing 737 on four passenger flights while the airplane was not in compliance with FAA regulations. The airline failed to repair or test an angle-of-attack sensor after it was struck by lightning in March 2009, the FAA said.
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is reviewing the standards for runway widths in preparation for a move to align them more closely with international standards.
CASA says that, in the past 20 years, Australian standards have been changed to allow large aircraft to operate on runways that are narrower than the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard.
For example, Boeing 737s — required by Australian regulations to use runways that are at least 45 m (148 ft) wide — have been given special permission to land on runways that are 30 m (98 ft) wide. The narrower width is permitted under U.S. Federal Aviation Administration specifications.
In 2010, CASA said it planned to change its policies to base runway width standards on ICAO recommendations, and a policy review has begun.
“While this work is under way [CASA] has extended the current runway width approvals until February 2012,” the agency said. “This means aircraft now operating into narrower runways can continue to do so. The extension
provides time for CASA to assess options, finalize its proposals and consult on the changes with the aviation industry.
Depending on the outcomes of the project, the changes being made to runway width standards may have an impact on a number of regional aerodromes with 30-m-wide runways.”
In addition, a $194,249 civil penalty was proposed against ERA Helicopters for allegedly failing to conduct required pre-employment drug tests before the hiring of eight employees in 2010 and allegedly returning an employee to “safety-sensitive duties” before obtaining documentation that the person had completed the requirements that allowed the return to duty.
Basil Victor Hewes
Basil Victor Hewes, who in 1978 received the Flight Safety Foundation Laura Taber Barbour Air Safety Award, died June 30. He was 89.
He served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II, and later flew as a captain for Delta Air Lines and was the director of flight operations for Air Atlanta. He was air safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and founder of the ALPA Fire and Rescue Committee. His work led to the discovery of the lethal properties of burning cabin materials and later to the development of rules for fire-resistant cabin furnishings.
Work was interrupted on airport modernization projects around the United States after the U.S. Congress delayed passing a bill that would have given the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the authority to continue the work.
“This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
The previous FAA reauthorization expired at midnight July 22. Congress did not act before the midnight deadline, and as a result, the FAA issued stop-work orders at dozens of major projects, including runway safety initiatives and research and testing associated with development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Among the projects that were affected were $250 million in contracts for the design and installation of runway-status lights at one dozen major airports across the United States. The lights are designed to tell pilots when they can safely move their aircraft onto runways or taxiways. Work also was interrupted on construction of new air traffic control towers in Las Vegas; Oakland and Palm Springs, California; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and Gulfport, Mississippi.
More effort is needed within Canada’s aviation industry to resolve key safety issues identified by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), Wendy Tadros, chairwoman of the TSB, says.
“Right now, progress is stalling,” Tadros said in evaluating efforts to address safety issues identified in the TSB’s Watchlist — a list of nine key issues that the TSB considers the greatest risks to Canada’s transportation system. The aviation issues on the list include the risk of collisions on runways, collisions with land and water, and landing accidents and runway overruns.
Tadros said the TSB has observed progress during the past year in addressing marine and rail safety issues, but she called the absence of similar progress in aviation “troubling.”
“We need to do more,” she said. “Without strong leadership, we won’t reduce the risk of collisions or aircraft overruns at Canada’s airports, nor can we ensure better data and voice recorders on aircraft — areas where Canada needs to meet new international standards.”
In Other News …
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a study to evaluate the safety of homebuilt aircraft, which number about 33,000 in the United States. The study will examine transition training for pilots of homebuilts, flight test and certification requirements, and maintenance. … A committee of the Australian Senate has issued nearly two dozen recommendations on pilot training and aviation safety, including a proposal that would require the first officers of large jet airplanes to hold airline transport pilot licenses. … David Grizzle, the chief counsel for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since 2009, has been named chief operating officer of the FAA Air Traffic Organization.
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman.