AC Pilots Group Says U.S. Fatigue Findings Should Be Wake-Up Call For Canada

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) has endorsed recommendations made by the United States' National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which called on the Government of Canada to change pilot fatigue regulations “to ensure the safety of Canada's passengers and pilots.”

"We thank the NTSB for its comprehensive review," said Captain Matt Hogan, Chair of ACPA's Master Elected Council. "The findings on fatigue underscore the many years of urgent calls by Canada's pilots for flight crew fatigue rules that are supported by science.” 

ACPA says draft regulations released by Transport Canada on 1JUL, 2017 fall short. They would allow Canadian pilots who begin their duty at 9 pm to operate two hours longer than NASA research recommends, and even longer than would be permitted in the U.S.

“Canada's new fatigue rules must close this two-hour gap," the pilots group said.

ACPA says research confirms that fatigue is a form of impairment. NASA's Ames Research Centre and others conducted studies that measured brain wave activity and micro-sleeps of pilots in actual flight operations at night. This informed NASA's recommendation of a maximum night duty of 10 hours– or 8.5 hours of flight time, requiring a relief pilot for longer duty periods. These NASA recommendations were not reflected in Transport Canada’s draft regulations.

ACPA is calling on the Canadian government to “fix the flawed regulations,” including by taking the following steps:

  • Address pilot fatigue on long-haul flights at night by limiting duty periods for flights in the evening to 8.5 hours of flight time – in line with NASA research findings; 
  • Ensure that any Fatigue Risk Management System relies on science-based prescriptive limits as a foundation, requiring independently verifiable data and stringent Transport Canada approval and oversight before deviating from the maximum duty period; and,  
  • Pilots on all sizes of aircraft – whether they carry passengers or cargo – should have the same protective fatigue limits, implemented at the same time.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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