Jeppesen iPhone app among new tools for managing pilot fatigue

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Boeing's Jeppesen unit has integrated fatigue risk management (FRM) functionality with its crew management system, and released a related first-of-its-kind Apple iPhone application, as the industry prepares to adopt new regulations requiring the implementation of pilot fatigue management systems.

Jeppesen says the FRM solution takes into consideration predicted levels of fatigue when generating and maintaining crew schedules. The predictions are based on the Boeing Alertness Model (BAM), developed jointly by Boeing and Jeppesen, and itself based on a modified version of the long-validated Three Process Model of Alertness, which contains circadian and homeostatic components to yield predicted alertness.

The modular design of the FRM solution, however, allows operators to make use of alternative alertness models if desired.

A BAM-based iPhone application called CrewAlert has also been released by Jeppesen. Available in the Apple App Store at a cost of $19.99, CrewAlert is billed as "the first app designed specifically to help airlines and their crews manage alertness and fatigue".

After entering a few key pieces of information, including departure and arrival time, number of legs, and time zone shift, CrewAlert "allows crew members to visualize the impact of planned schedule on future alertness", says Jeppesen.

CrewAlert also allows for data, collected in actual operations, "to be fed back into" an airline's FRM system "for purposes of correlation with other pilot data and further refinement of the FRM model".

Pilot fatigue came under severe scrutiny by lawmakers in the aftermath of the February 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 turboprop. During the subsequent investigation questions arose over the carrier's monitoring of crew practices related to fatigue management. In compliance with a Congressional mandate, the US FAA recently released a proposed rule requiring part 121 operators to develop a safety management system (SMS). The law also requires FAA to mandate that operators develop fatigue management plans, replacing existing regulations on flight time limitations (FTL).

Jeppesen notes that pre-flight FRM risk assessments, available through the Jeppesen crew management solution suite, provide an essential element of an operator's SMS.

"For years, rules implemented at company, regulatory and union levels limited duty times of crew with the intent of managing fatigue. Our fatigue management solutions - with the integration of industry-recognized alertness models into our crew management software, plus the CrewAlert mobile application - now allow airlines and their crew to enhance flight safety and maintain efficient operations," says Tim Huegel, director, Jeppesen portfolio management, aviation.