The FAA’s new stance on pilot fatigue will force a response from the European Union

Posted on 21. Jul, 2009 by in Featured

The inputs, from interested parties, for new Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) on crew rest are due on 31 July. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new stance on crew rest will force the European Union and the entire world via the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to also review regulations.
The European Cockpit Association is calling on the European Aviation Safety Agency to take action on pilot fatigue. Emirates Air near disaster in Melbourne will also bring pilot fatigue into sharper focus. Below are excerpts from an interview with the Captain:

“I had the flown the maximum in the last 30 days. One hundred hours in 28 days, it’s an Emirates rule,” he said.
“I’d flown 99 hours. You can fly 100 hours in a month. There a big difference in long-haul, nights, it’s a mix of everything.”
He said he had told ATSB investigators he had little sleep in the day before to the 10.30pm flight on Friday, March 20.
“This long-haul flying is really, really fatiguing. Really demanding on your body,” he said.
“When I did that take-off in Melbourne I had slept 3 1/2 hours in 24 hours.
“You feel sort of normal, abnormal.”

It now appears the cause of the incident was a weight number improperly typed into the aircrafts computer. It was a 200,000 pound error; the power settings for the engines and takeoff speeds were way off, figured for a much lighter aircraft.

A fatigued pilot relies on routine; when events move outside of the norm a fatigued pilot is more likely not to recognize the new situation or miss-interpret it. The Emirates crew did not recognize the huge disparity in weight that resulted in low power settings and airspeeds. Colgan Airs crew apparently miss-took a classic wing stall for a tail stall.

Crew fatigue will be the hot item for regulators; after 911 pilot contracts were gutted of their work rules in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings. It is now up to the agencies to fix it.

No Responses to “The FAA’s new stance on pilot fatigue will force a response from the European Union”

  1. Rick 21 July 2009 at 20:20 #

    I really applaud your taking a stand here, your logic, your presentation, and your passion for this issue. One standard I will continually adhere to, unless I seem some meaningful change, is to 100% avoid night flying. I continue to believe it’s a major contributor in these chain reaction events, especially when fatigue is coupled with it. Good job. I hope you have a wide audience with this.

  2. Chip 22 July 2009 at 07:42 #

    Night does make things harder because of the lack of visual cues. The US Navy loved the night, it shielded us from our enemies. And we knew most of the worlds air forces flew very little at night. I got more than my fair share, so did most Naval Aviators. I had 240 carrier landings on my first ship, the USS Midway, 100 were night. I think I remember each one individually.

    As a Landing Signal Officer we noticed the best approaches were flown on dark nasty nights. Nothing motivates like fear! When the full moon came out so did the senior bubba’s, we called it a Commanders moon.

    I fly a lot of nights on the line; but while flying mt light single I too avoid it. I’m older now and realize in aviation while you always hope for the best you have got to plan for the worst. An engine failure, when all you got is one, is significantly “complicated” if you can’t see anything.

    The most important lesson I learned while flying night traps on ships was, do it a lot! The longer the duration between night events the uglier the landing. Practice may not make perfect, but it sure does help. If pilot doesn’t do it a lot, especially if he/she is not instrument qualified, don’t do it at all or wait for the Comanders Moon.

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