Testifies for Science-Based Approach Instead of Current Prescriptive Limits
Alexandria, VA, June 11, 2009 — Flight Safety Foundation Fellow Curt Graeber testified this morning before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Aviation on the issue of fatigue in the operation of aircraft. Dr. Graeber called for the implementation of a scientifically-based approach to managing fatigue using fatigue risk management (FRM).
Dr. Graeber testified about the importance of “adopting a three-pronged, systematic, incremental approach to managing fatigue risk comprised of prevention, mitigation and intervention.” Prevention can include such measures as scientifically defensible scheduling and education about sleep and fatigue. Mitigation would be at the operational level and include trip planning, pre-trip rest and crew resource management training. Intervention recognizes the inevitable fact that crews sometimes experience fatigue and could include controlled rest on the flight deck.
Dr. Graeber noted that “the effectiveness of controlled rest on the flight deck has been successfully demonstrated by NASA in 1989.” He further testified “this idea has been successfully used by foreign carriers since 1994, but it has never been approved in the U.S.”
“FRM takes into account known variables that affect sleep and alertness which prescriptive flight/duty limits cannot address,” he said. These include variables such as multiple time zone crossings, sleep at inappropriate circadian times, night work, the effect of sunlight and cumulative sleep deficit. “This approach is data-driven, monitoring where fatigue risk occurs and where safety may be jeopardized. It then allows for generating new scheduling solutions or other strategies to mitigate measured fatigue risk,” Dr. Graeber concluded.
The Flight Safety Foundation led the development of fatigue risk management for ultra-long range operations starting in 2000 and its recommendations are now being followed by several operators both in the U.S. and around the world in the operation of their longest-haul flights. Dr. Graeber led the Foundation’s Task Force on Crew Alertness in Ultra-Long Range Operations.
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, auditing, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to pursue the continuous improvement of global aviation safety and the prevention of accidents. www.flightsafety.org
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