New rules to cut fa­tigue mean shorter fly­ing hours for pi­lots

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST -

OT­TAWA The fed­eral govern­ment is en­act­ing strict new mea­sures to ad­dress mount­ing con­cerns about tired flight crews on com­mer­cial planes — big and small.

New reg­u­la­tions will set lower lim­its for the num­ber of hours pi­lots can be in the air and on the job be­fore hav­ing to take a break, tak­ing into ac­count the times of day they fly and how often they take off and land. Rules will set out how many hours a pilot can be on the job in one month, in three months and in a year. And new rules are be­ing set for how many nights in a row a pilot can fly.

A daily max­i­mum is also be­ing set be­tween nine and 13 hours, de­pend­ing on what time of day a pilot starts work. Higher min­i­mums are also be­ing set for rest pe­ri­ods that will vary de­pend­ing on whether a pilot is at home or away.

The new reg­u­la­tions come al­most a decade af­ter Trans­port Canada first looked at the is­sue.

“We rely on pro­fes­sional flight crews who have the train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence to make sure that we travel safely. To do that, they need to be well-rested and fit for duty,” Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Gar­neau said. “I’m con­fi­dent that the new reg­u­la­tions will re­duce pilot fa­tigue and make air travel safer.”

Canada’s reg­u­la­tions on rest and duty time were ex­co­ri­ated in an Amer­i­can re­port this fall that pinned part of the blame on pilot fa­tigue in a July 2017 in­ci­dent in­volv­ing an Air Canada jet. The Air­bus A320 nearly landed on a taxi­way at San Fran­cisco’s air­port where other planes loaded with pas­sen­gers awaited their turns to take off.

The Trans­porta­tion Safety Board said in its most re­cent an­nual safety re­port that since the early 1990s, it has iden­ti­fied 34 avi­a­tion in­ci­dents where fa­tigue was an is­sue. It’s also a prob­lem in rail and ma­rine op­er­a­tions, the board said. “Ef­fec­tive fa­tigue man­age­ment and the re­duc­tion of as­so­ci­ated risks re­quire pro­found changes in at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours, both at the man­age­ment and op­er­a­tional lev­els,” the board said in its 2018 re­port.

The board rec­om­mended the govern­ment re­quire air­lines to cre­ate “fa­tigue risk-man­age­ment sys­tems” de­signed for their spe­cific op­er­a­tions. Gar­neau said Wednes­day the govern­ment will do just that, par­tic­u­larly for smaller air­lines like those serv­ing the North.

“We have ac­com­mo­dated to try to rec­og­nize the re­al­ity that ex­ists in some of our smaller re­gional and north­ern air­lines,” he said. “We have tried to be sen­si­tive to this with­out com­pro­mis­ing on safety.”

Spe­cialty ser­vices like med­i­cal and fire­fight­ing air­craft will be ex­empt from the time lim­its.

New rules are also be­ing in­tro­duced to pro­hibit al­co­hol con­sump­tion for flight crew mem­bers 12 hours be­fore duty, an in­crease from eight hours.

Marc Gar­neau

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