Airlines launch fatigue risk management forum

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A group of airlines working with UK research company Qinetiq has set up a fatigue risk management forum to help the industry share best practice in controlling the dangers of pilot, cabin crew and engineer fatigue.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has already ruled that fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) should become standard in the industry - over and above flight time limitations - and the European Aviation Safety Agency is preparing to mandate FRMS as a part of every airline's safety management system (SMS).

At Qinetiq's main base in Farnborough, UK, delegates from 52 organisations all over the world met to agree arrangements for launching the Fatigue and Risk Management Forum. On 8 May they unanimously voted the organisation into existence. The main airline players involved in setting up the forum are Air New Zealand, EasyJet, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic, but many more carriers sent representatives, as did regulators from Australia, Europe, New Zealand and the UK.

What motivates the organisations is the belief that fatigue risk management will lead to safer, more efficient operation, and the knowledge that regulators in many countries, following the ICAO resolution, will require airlines to set up FRMS as part of their SMS.

The first management committee will consist of David Powell of Air New Zealand, Jim Mangie of Delta Air Lines, Simon Stewart of EasyJet, Rob Holliday of Virgin Atlantic, and Dr Barbara Stone and Douglas Mellor from Qinetiq. So far, ANZ and EasyJet are the only carriers anywhere to operate fully implemented, regulator-approved FRMS.

The forum's purpose is to enable operators to share experience of setting up or using an FRMS, starting with the knowledge of the few airlines that have one or are working on one, and expanding as more carriers take it up. The main medium will be a Wiki-like website that will contain information useful to interested carriers, allowing best practice to be recognised and developed. It will also contain links to regulators, and to expert organisations experienced in the sciences associated with FRMS.

Forum members have agreed to meet again in a year, by which time the website should have assumed its basic shape.

The first phase will concentrate on FRMS specific to pilots, but this will expand to cabin crew and maintenance personnel, and eventually to air traffic control and ramp workers.