A study conducted by the London School of Economics has highlighted a startling fact. Among the key findings of the work, 51 per cent of pilots surveyed reported that fatigue was not taken seriously by their airline, and 28 per cent of pilots felt that they had insufficient numbers of staff to carry out their work safely. In a further notable finding, less than 20 per cent of the pilots surveyed felt that their airline company cares about their well-being.
A recently concluded survey by Safety Matters, an NGO based in India has disclosed that 67% Pilots and 74% Air Traffic Controllers from the number of survey respondents feel that their employer had not taken measures to manage their fatigue. This is an unsafe situation indeed! Read the full report here….
One of the survey respondents commented “Rostering in these time of Covid 19 has been given a free hand in order to cut costs. This has implied regular duties of more than 12 hours and upto 15hours. This fatigue has to be taken into account. The DGCA has to have a look again at the FDTL which has just been recently changed to cater for airline needs completely ignoring the fatigue factor and a significant safety hazard. “
Fatigue is defined as a physiological state of reduced mental or physical performance capability resulting from sleep loss or extended wakefulness, circadian phase, or workload (mental and/or physical activity) that can impair a crew member’s alertness and ability to safely operate an aircraft.
Conclusion: The essence of a safety culture is the relationship between the organisation represented by the management and the workers, represented by the pilots. There is a mistrust and lack of commitment towards the safety objectives. Therefore the safety culture cannot progress beyond the calculative stage till the generative stage. Management needs to understand and the pilots need to develop a relationship which fosters trust. A generative safety culture is the aim to achieve.
Canada has issued new regulations governing pilot rest and duty time to counter the effect of fatigue and the risk associated with it.
Australia has been proactive in reaching out to the public for consulting them before finalizing the set of rules. A collaborative decision making effort is always fruitful since all concerned stakeholders feel responsible in ensuring the success of the project.
The Indian regulator needs to implement a systematic means for regulating fatigue by implementing the Fatigue Risk Management System as recommended by the United Nations body on aviation, the ICAO.