Fred Lewis Posted March 26, 2013 Report Share Posted March 26, 2013 Last spring, the fatigue-risk-management working group concluded its deliberations before issuing its final report to the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Advisory Council Technical Committee in November 2012. Ironically, it’s HAC’s view that the report focuses less on fatigue and risk, and more on the needs of the large scheduled international air carriers represented by the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), and their pilots’ unions. What started out as an effort to update the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) in light of the latest available fatigue-related research, turned into an airline-centric overhaul of the Canadian regulations. The collective bargaining agreements between the unions and their employers are generally less demanding than the CARs as they now exist and will exist when the revised CARs are implemented. The unions will realize some gains from the suggested revision of the CARs, but not nearly as much as the writer of this article seems to think. The real beneficiaries will be the fixed- and rotary-wing pilots who work for non-scheduled, on-demand operators.“Pilots are pilots,” as they say. We all get fatigued. But we get fatigued in different ways because we do different jobs. In terms of our respective job descriptions, airline drivers and helicopter pilots share the sky . . . but that is where the similarity ends.Helicopter pilots operate largely in an unscheduled, VFR, self-dispatch, seasonal environment, and in some of the most remote areas of the country. We generally operate without crew-scheduling or dispatch offices. Airline pilots have their “pairings” and “blocks” weeks in advance. Helicopter pilots frequently don’t know what they are doing tomorrow morning. These are precisely the reasons that the CARs must be revised to reflect the circumstances under which non-scheduled, on-demand pilots, both helicopter and fixed-wing, operate. The unpredictable nature of these operations complicate the life of the pilot. Length of tour of duty and length and timing of time off are by no means guaranteed. In their respective fatigue-risk management working group processes, the Europeans and Americans concentrated on the commercial and business aviation communities first to consider and implement regulatory solutions sensitive to the needs of these segments. This is something the co-chairs in the Canadian working group steadfastly refused to do. Instead, they focused on developing rules of broad application with a few small variations, which were ill-suited to the industry segments they were developed to accommodate. It does not appear that the co-chairs steadfastly refused to consider the needs of the commercial and business segments. What they steadfastly insisted on doing was to consider how ordinary human beings experience fatigue. Pilots who fly non-scheduled, on-demand operations are, after all, ordinary human beings.The working group co-chairs relied heavily on controversial European Aviation Safety Agency recommendations, the new U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations and International Civil Aviation Organization Standards And Recommended Practices (SARPS) – all of which were only intended to apply to large airlines. What the Working Group heavily relied on was firstly fatigue science. The secondary consideration was to align Canadian regulations with those of other jurisdictions and the recommendations of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization of which Canada is not only a Member state but a Council Member state.The working group co-chairs have recommended a series of new and significantly more restrictive changes to the current regime of flight and duty time limitations set out in the CARs which would apply to helicopter operators. These include: cumulative duty hour requirements, completely new to the CARsThis is one of the most important requirements suggested by the Working Group. It will also help prevent the new regulations from conflicting with the Canada Labour Code. sector limits requiring a reduction in the flight duty period, completely new to the CARs (The more landings and takeoffs you do, the shorter your flight duty period. This new limit, according to the recommendations in the report would apply only to scheduled and medevac helicopter operations) new, more conservative seven-day (down from 70 to 56 hours) 28-day (down from 140 to 112 hours) and 365-day (down from 1,200 to 1,000 hours) cumulative flight time limits Fifty-six hours in seven days is eight hours a day. This is in line with the philosophy apparent in the Canada Labour Code. Reducing the 28 day limit from 140 to 112 hours is a reduction of only one hour a day. It is a rare pilot that will fly more than 1,000 hours in a year. new, less-flexible rest period requirements that impose a 10- or 12-hour minimum rest period (depending on whether the pilot is deployed or at home-base), rather than imposing a requirement on the air operator to ensure eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep is protected new, maximum daily flight duty periods that vary depending on when the flight crew member starts his/her day – new to the CARs This is to ameliorate the increase in fatigue experienced when the duty day infringes on the period of circadian low. It is one of the aspects of fatigue affecting scheduling that HAC conceded during the discussions. removal of the current industry segment-specific standards which applied to non-scheduled and helicopter operations and to heli-logging operations What is the point of making regulations that ensure the safety and quality of the life of citizens if the regulations also include loopholes that can be used those who disagree with the regulations to dodge them? new more conservative time free from duty requirements for rotational crews, down from a maximum of five days off after 42 consecutive days to five days off after 15 days!Again, this will help prevent the new regulations from conflicting with the Canada Labour Code. new, and lower, maximum flight duty period, down from 14 hours to 13 hoursIt should be down to 12 hours a day, not 13. in spite of strong scientific evidence that multiple consecutive days free from duty will serve to significantly reduce fatigue, the co-chairs eliminated the “zeroing” of accumulated flight time for five days-off – without even mentioning the issue in the reportWhen science confirms the HAC’s position on the issues, they embrace it and when it does not, they discard it. In the final analysis, nine associations came together to reject the recommendations contained in the working group report. The bottom line? “One-size-does-NOT-fit-all,” Minister Lebel. It’s time the needs of helicopter operators are taken into consideration in this critical issue.If HAC is going to insist on using this hackneyed “One size does not fit all.” phrase when it comes to aviation operations, then it must be prepared to acknowledge that one size does not fit all where pilots are concerned either. The regulations must be tailored to fit the average pilot, and while some may be able to endure the demanding schedules that some operators foist on their employees, not everyone can. 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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