PILOT FATIGUE/OVERSCHEDULING v. PILOT SHORTAGE- there’s an FAA process to decide

Fatigue Chart
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American and Delta pilots raise RED FLAG of FATIGUE

Airlines say concellations due to PILOT Shortage

FAA SMS intended to resolve Safety Risks

The 21st Century, so far, seems replete with failures to trust. It appears that facts tend to be more gray and less black v. white. The current press release battle between the pilots and their respective managements cannot agree on basic issues. “Are the current flight cancellations due to excessive scheduling CAUSING PILOT fatigue or are these disruptions the result of a PILOT SHORTAGE ? It seems as though this difference of opinion, especially based on the American  Allied Pilots Union and the Delta ALPA releases, is irreconcilable.

 

REMEMBER: licensed pilots have always borne the duty to not fly if they were not fit for duty.

regs relating ro fatigue and safety

 

Global aviation safety is striving to manage risks with more objective quantitative data. An early effort in this quantification was the creation of Flight Operations Quality Analysis( FOQA). This statistical resource captures mechanical irregularities, increasingly on a real time basis, growing in its monitoring of the aircraft, spreading around the globe and aggregating information to a meta database increasing trend reliability.

More relevant to pilot fatigue is NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). This website allows aviation safety personnel to voluntarily   report errors with absolute confidentiality. Periodically, reports of similar instances are published in CALLBACK; for example, here is a paper addressing pilot fatigue (March 2022).

The most quantitative program is the Safety Management System (SMS) which reaches the above two tools plus a long list of relevant indicia of aviation operations. Each airline must  have  established a process to review their specific numbers, spot trends, develop alternative corrections to a threat and adopt a solution. The decision makers are drawn from a 3600  representation of the airline. PILOT FATIGUE would be a prime example of an action item for this group to be resolved by all members of the committee .

The FAR for pilot fatigue was the product of an exhaustive rule making process. A committee composed of labor representatives, airline managements, research experts on fatigue/rest, public interest advocates and other stakeholders. Extensive deliberations were devoted to the leading scientific studies on the subject and the findings translated, after much debate, to a consensus set to rulesfitness for duty,  fatigue risk management, flight time limitations, flight duty period: unaugmented operations, split duties &extensions, cumulative limitations, rest periods, consecutive nighttime limitations, emergency and government sponsored operations. All are carefully designed in detailed definitions, precisely set time limits and qualitative terms in 14 CFR Part 117-

Part 117

Both American and Delta unions  may have entered complaints about fatigue. SMS would have the numbers to determine whether the requirements of FAR Part 117 were met .The goal of this rubric is to look for solutions that may go beyond the literal terms of the regulations. If, for example, a specific out-and-in timetable within the limits, but  posed stresses due to aspects not known to the scheduler, SMS would have/should have dealt with it. Perhaps, the union representative disagreed, but such a dissent would be brought to the POI’s attention. Whether the process was invoked and what, if any, result was delivered or what degree the FAA was involved are not public knowledge.

The public statements that American’s “training lapses and overtired pilots … could lead to unsafe skies” or more moderately, and that Delta’s pilots are distressed by all the cancellations suggests that relationships are  TERRIBLY WRONG at both airlines. Today’s aviation safety regime depends constant vigilance through SMS and SMS must be built on trust.

Safety Culture Poster

 


 

American Airlines pilot calls on FAA to monitor airlines he says are scheduling more flights than they can staff

Dennis Tajer of the Allied Pilots Association said airlines are running too many flights for them to handle.

 

By Elisha Fieldstadt

The spokesman for the American Airlines pilots’ union called on the Federal Aviation Administration to monitor airlines that are scheduling flights they can’t follow through on because of a pilot shortage.

Dennis Tajer, a pilot who is the communications committee chairman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, said Wednesday onCapt. Tajer CNBC that the shortage has led to training lapses and overtired pilots and that it could lead to unsafe skies.

“I’m on TV as a representative for our union saying, ‘There’s a problem here,’” Tajer said.

Safety Culture?“The fact that you’re{the airline} pushing us and pushing us, this is not a safety culture. The FAA should come in and look at this,” he said. “They{FAA} ought to come in and look at them trying to fly more airplanes than they can actually fly and building these schedules to an inhumane level and ultimately letting down our passengers and squandering our investors’ money.”

The FAA responded by saying it “maintains strict duty and rest regulations for pilots to ensure continued safety.”

Fatigued Pilot

Thousands of flights were canceled and delayed during the travel-heavy Juneteenth and Father’s Day holiday weekend, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Airlines had canceled more than 1,100 flights by early Friday afternoon after they canceled more than 1,700 the day before, according to The Associated Press.

More than 6,300 flights were delayed within, into or leaving the U.S. on Saturday, and 859 flights were canceled, according to the flight tracking platform FlightAware.

Schedule CancellationsAirlines “looked at the demand, and they said: ‘Here’s where the money is. Let’s go get it,'” Tajer said. “But they never had a plan to actually fulfill that, and they left it on our plate.”

Tajer said airlines have not properly used the money the U.S. government afforded them during the pandemic, adding to the problem.

“This is a failure of management to utilize the money that was given to them by the American taxpayer to have us ready for the recovery, and we’re not,” he said. “And now we’re starting to see them trying to cut corners in training.”

Tajer said an experienced instructor used to accompany newer pilots at the Guatemala City airport because of its rough terrain.

“Now they’re telling us, ‘Hey, why don’t you take a look at this iPad course, and you’ll be good to go,'” he said.

“They’re pilot-pushing, and they are narrowing the margin of safety,” he added.

Tajer’s most recent workday was scheduled for 12 hours, he said.

“That left me with about an hour to spare,” Tajer said. “You have any hiccup there and it’s falling apart.”

“This is not the way to run a business,” he added.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The airline has announced that it will end services beginning in September to some airports in Iowa, New York and Ohio because of a pilot shortage.

United Airlines, starting July 1, is cutting 50 flights from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey “due to ongoing congestion challenges,” the airline said.

 

AA parked planes

 


Delta Air Lines Pilots’ Open Letter Hits at Carrier – Airways Magazine

Delta Fatigue letter

 

 

 

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