In late January 2006 we headlined this column Dead tired. In it we criticised the US Federal Aviation Administration for its apathy over the issue of basing proposed new flight-time limitations on science. We would still criticise them today for caving in to the airline lobby on that front - yet again.
But at that same time we also criticised the National Transportation Safety Board for its passive attitude to the subject of fatigue in pilots, controllers and mechanics. The NTSB said it knew fatigue was a killer, but appeared to believe there was no point in fighting because the FAA wouldn't act.
Today the NTSB publishes fatigue among its "most wanted safety improvements", but it has also just brought on to its staff a scientist on the subject of fatigue and its management. Dr Mark Rosekind is among the best known consultants in the world on fatigue and sleep science. His arrival at the NTSB is good news.
So is the arrival of Earl Weener, a professional pilot who has long worked in flight operations safety analysis at Boeing and the Flight Safety Foundation, producing studies that changed the way the aviation world manages safety. Weener helped introduce the world to today's data-driven systems for the prioritisation of flight safety improvement objectives. Having these two analysts will help the NTSB punch above its weight. Faced with the inertia of the FAA, it will need to do just that.
Source: Flight International