Saturday, 18 February 2017

DCU Masters student launches survey exploring effectiveness of Flight Time Limitations

DCU Masters student launches survey to explore the effectiveness of the current Flight Time Limitations on safety and fatigue in commercial aviation in Europe.

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Daily thousands of commercial flights and the lives of countless passengers are heavily dependent upon the implementation of safety regulations to protect the public’s interest. As part of these safety regulations, several amendments have been made to the hours and rest periods in which flight crew can operate to combat fatigue. The 18th of February 2016 marked the date in which all air operators in Europe must have transitioned to the new Flight Time limitations rules (Reg 83/2014). These amendments take into consideration a paradigm shift in the industry, recognising through scientific research, the cause and consequences of fatigue and their effect on commercial aviation.  It was no longer satisfactory to merely comply with the new rules, airlines now had to establish fatigue risk management to identify their own fatigue related risks and act to mitigate them accordingly. Under the new EU Occurrence reporting regulation (Reg. 376/2014), fatigue reporting is no longer a choice but an obligation (ECA,2016). This statement relies heavily upon the principle of ‘Just culture’ and a sound safety reporting culture within an airline (Helmreich, 2000). These principles are built on the premise that a culture and system must be established in which a crew member can freely report, in fact be encouraged to report any concerns they have relating to safety in a confidential manner without fear of reprisal (ECA, 2015). As part of the FTL rules, all operators must train their crew in fatigue management, and mitigate their own operational risk relating to fatigue and this must be encompassed into their safety management systems.
The researcher believes, that crew which operate daily within these rules i.e.: cabin crew and pilots, can and should be given an opportunity to rate, in their opinion the effectiveness of these regulations, to highlight areas of effectiveness, or areas which can be improved by the regulatory body and or their operator. As part of the implementation of FTL subpart, EASA are committed to conducting a continuous review of the effectiveness of the new provision. The researcher believes studies like this one can aid in assessing the regulations effectiveness.

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Researchers background:  Sinead Whiston
The researcher is a master’s student studying Aviation Leadership and Management in Dublin City University (DCU). This research is part of her master’s thesis. Sinead has several years’ experience in the aviation industry as cabin crew for several airlines. She went back into education and studied an Honours degree in Psychology in All Hallows, were her final year’s thesis explored, “The impact of stress and fatigue on pilot performance”. Sinead has experience in an airlines Safety Management System and the implementation of Fatigue Risk Management. Sinead quotes: “The purpose of this research is to explore the effectiveness of the rules surrounding Flight Time Limitations. The merging of scientific principles to rostering and safety systems is a complex process, all of which is embedded in an airlines culture. This survey hopes to gain data on ways to improve the implementation of fatigue risk in safety systems, by giving the voice back to crew to highlight ways in which this can be done”.
The survey takes approximately between 10-15 minutes to complete. All participants are anonymous and confidentiality is pivotal to this research. No data will be disclosed to any operator.
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