November 3, 2009
ALPA Adopts Landmark Pilot Fatigue Policy
WASHINGTON – The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), has adopted a leading-edge flight-time/duty-time and rest policy that is anchored to the Association’s “Schedule with Safety” motto and tailored to take into account the latest science on how pilots deal with fatigue and maintain maximum alertness.
“This new policy, which reflects ALPA’s seven-decade commitment to safety, is the culmination of a dedicated three-year effort focused on developing a truly modern, science-based position,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “With the FAA’s commitment to issue a new proposed flight- and duty-time rule by the end of the year, ALPA seized the opportunity to improve the safety and quality of work life for airline pilots by forging the strongest policy possible.”
In 2007, ALPA created a Blue Ribbon Panel on Pilot Fatigue to review the science and recommend actions for the union to pursue in taking on this extremely important issue. In addition, the Association has testified before Congress on numerous occasions as part of its efforts to draw attention to the need for urgent action.
ALPA’s Executive Board unanimously approved the new flight-time/duty-time limits and minimum rest requirements policy on October 28 after thorough deliberation by pilots from regional, national, flag, and cargo airlines. The policy sets very specific goals for both the flight- and duty-time regulatory reform (which is already under way in the United States and likely to follow in Canada) and for negotiating rules on scheduling in future pilot contracts.
ALPA’s policy takes on pilot fatigue in seven major areas: rest, duty, extension of duty, cumulative fatigue, augmentation, reserve, and fatigue risk management systems (FRMS). Among other approaches, the policy uses the time of day when a pilot reports for flight duty to determine the appropriate flight-duty period length.
For example, a 13-hour flight-duty period that includes a 9-hour flight-time limit would comply with ALPA’s new policy for pilots who report for work between 7:00 a.m. and 12:59 p.m. and will fly one to four legs during that duty period. On the other hand, ALPA’s new policy would set a maximum flight-duty period of 9 hours with a limit of 7 hours of flight time for pilots who report to work between 12:00 midnight and 3:59 a.m., because the duty period runs contrary to natural circadian rhythms.
“We have a scientific bibliography for every part of ALPA’s fatigue policy,” said Capt. Don Wykoff, ALPA’s Flight Time/Duty Time Committee chairman. “This policy also harmonizes ALPA’s position with that of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization—two of the most important aviation safety organizations in the world.”
“We won’t know what is in the FAA’s proposed rule until it is published,” cautioned Prater. “But if the FAA considers ALPA’s new policy, and those of the other international aviation safety organizations, the result should be a regulation that sets the pace for progress in combating pilot fatigue around the globe.”Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 53,500 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada