Regulated fatigue risk management by individual airlines for its pilots is one of those simple ideas that emerges as the obvious solution for a perennial problem that no-one has ever been able to solve.

Flight time limitation (FTL) regulations may be required to set some kind of a benchmark or starting point for pilot rostering, but it has always been accepted that regulations tight enough to ensure zero fatigue risk would be so restrictive as to make any kind of commercial operation impossible.

On the other hand, research has found that many types of operation – like night cargo – can induce serious levels of fatigue without breaching FTLs.

Pilots can be dangerous when they are fatigued. Usually they get away with it, but occasionally – operating within FTLs – a set of circumstances has presented itself to a fatigued crew who simply could not recognise the risk, or make the required decision, or even muster the physical skills to handle the aircraft appropriately.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation is about to publish standards for individual operator fatigue risk management systems (FRMS).

Very soon the European Commission will require European operators to make their own tailored FRMS a part of their already-mandated safety management system (SMS), subject to internal and external audit.

Sticking to the FTLs will no longer be good enough. The research and study that has led to the FRMS concept has proven the inadequacy of reliance on FTLs. Shifting the emphasis to FRMS is a recognition that one size does not fit all.

Full marks to the Luxembourg pilots’ association ALPL, especially its leaders Capt George Karambilas and Capt Pascal Kremer, for setting up a first-class two-day workshop last week to present delegates with global expertise on the theory and practice of FRMS.

Most airlines and business aircraft operators have no awareness that this particular express train is heading down the track at them.

FRMS may be a simple idea, but applying and monitoring it is not so simple. It could be relatively easy for a four-ship charter operator, but for an airline the size of EasyJet, whose experience will be the basis for Europe’s FRMS rules, it takes knowledge, commitment and resources.

Airlines had better start acquiring all three. EasyJet has made FRMS a win-win: reduced risk plus more efficient operations. That could be you. The subject is just one of those addressed at Flight International’s Crew Management Conference in December.

Related article

Airlines to be required to run fatigue management systems


Source: Flight International