Pilots Say Draft Rules On Fatigue Don't Go Far Enough

Open Jaw

Canada's four largest pilot groups, representing more than 8,000 passenger and cargo pilots, have launched a campaign to inform Canadians about what they see as "outdated aviation fatigue regulations."

The SaferSkies.ca campaign says pilot fatigue is "the most urgent aviation safety concern in Canada" and its proponents believe the current rules are more than 20 years out of date, do not align with accepted fatigue science, and lag behind international standards, including in the U.S. and Europe. 

A draft update to regulations governing pilot fatigue was published by Transport Canada on 25MAR. The Safer Skies campaign says the update includes some improvements but does not go far enough to protect pilots, passengers and the aviation sector. 

"We believe updated fatigue rules must be based on science," said Milt Isaacs, CEO, Air Canada Pilots Association.

"Today, Canada permits pilots to fly long-haul flights at night for 12.5 hours or longer. The recent draft to the regulations would reduce that to 10.5 hours. But that's a full two hours longer than the limit established by NASA research, which recommended a maximum duty period at night of 10 hours – or 8.5 hours of flight time. Canadian pilots and their passengers deserve better." 

Campaign proponents say that NASA's Ames Research Centre has studied the topic and concluded that shift work, night work, irregular or unpredictable work schedules, and time zone changes are all factors that result in performance-impairing fatigue. 

The Safer Skies campaign is calling on Transport Minister Marc Garneau to address what it sees as shortcomings in the draft regulations to ensure Canada's rules reflect fatigue science and align with other jurisdictions. 

The SaferSkies.ca website asks Canadians to sign a Parliamentary Petition, sponsored by Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard.




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