Pilot Fatigue

 Background

Fatigue has for many years been a worrying issue for pilots and it continues to be a huge concern across the industry today. Pilots have told BALPA they believe fatigue is now the biggest single threat to flight safety.

In February 2016 new controversial European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) flight time limitation laws came in to force.  Pilots feared these changes could mean pilots were made to work longer and harder leading to dangerous levels of fatigue, and this has now come to pass.  

BALPA is committed to monitoring the effect of these new rules to ensure airlines do not see them as targets. Already we are hearing of rosters and schedules and working arrangements that are putting strain on flight crew.

BALPA is also hearing increasingly of cases of long term sickness related to fatigue and “burnout” as well as an increased demand for part time work. These are indicators that current work levels cannot be sustained.

 Statistics

2 in 5 pilots say fatigue, overwork or rostering pose the greatest single threat to aviation safety*
2 in 5 reported their abilities had been compromised by fatigue at least once a month*
25% said they had logged a fatigue report in the last 6 months*
(*Figures from the BALPA Membership survey 2015)

 BALPA Position

BALPA has launched its ‘Focus on Fatigue’ campaign to keep the issue on the agenda of pilots, the public, airlines regulators and the Government.

No one wants tired pilots on the flight deck and BALPA is working with regulators and airlines to create an industry wide culture that understands and prioritises fatigue.

Pilots say it is essential for airlines to ensure the new EASA FTLs are not being used as targets to push pilots to work longer and harder. BALPA is monitoring the effect of the law change and challenging routes, rosters and schedules that are a threat to flight safety.

BALPA understand the vital importance of accurate data and fatigue monitoring. We have written to our members to encourage them to report fatigue. We are also working with airlines and the CAA to remove any barriers to reporting and make sure the systems to do so are working.

We are also looking at how modern technology can be harnessed to make reporting as simple as possible and enable accurate data to be collected.