Pilot Fatigue Rules in Canada Must Be Addressed

As the largest nongovernmental aviation safety organization in the world, ALPA has long asserted that the best safety feature of any airplane is a well-trained, well-rested, highly motivated flight crew. For years, ALPA’s Canada Board has joined together with Canadian officials and aviation stakeholders in a tremendous effort to develop flight-and duty-time regulations and minimum-rest requirements for airline pilots that are based on sound science.

Fatigue science clearly shows that time awake greatly affects performance. Under a science-based fatigue-mitigation regime, duty lengths can be tailored to account for the time of day a pilot starts work. A fundamental component of this goal includes applying the new fatigue rules to all professional pilots, regardless of whether they fly for large or small airlines or if they transport passengers or cargo. 

As a leader in advancing this critical safety regulation, ALPA’s Canada Board has been a regular participant in working groups and numerous committees since 2010 on changes to Canadian flight-and duty-time limits and minimum-rest requirements. Through collective efforts, we were successful in submitting progressive recommendations for consideration in 2012 and encouraged Transport Canada to act on across-the-board implementation for all pilots.

After making good progress, our work in creating new flight- and duty-time regulations was stalled this week when Transport Canada published a Notice of Intention in the Gazette rather than an expected new rule. While one can presume that this announcement is a result of Parliament being dissolved due to the federal election, it is still frustrating. At this point, we should be implementing new fatigue guidance that enhances aviation safety. Instead, the decision to postpone this effort continues to delay the already overdue issuance of these important safety regulations.

As we have for years, ALPA’s Canada Board will continue work toward our goal of having science-based fatigue protections for all pilots across Canada. We will remain a vocal advocate for air transportation safety. Updating and improving flight-time/duty-time rules is crucial and must be a top priority immediately following the election.

Categories: Advocacy, Safety