October 10, 2007
ALPA Launches New Effort to Fight Pilot Fatigue
VANCOUVER, B.C.—Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) President, Capt. John Prater, announced the creation of a Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel today at the Association’s Joint Scheduling Seminar in Vancouver. The panel is tasked to review the science and economics surrounding pilot fatigue as well as the flight/duty regulations in both Canada and the U.S. and recommend actions for ALPA to pursue to address this serious safety and quality-of-life concern.
“Pilots are routinely pushed into sacrificing needed rest to help their companies survive during economic downturns and bankruptcy,” said Capt. Prater. “Corporate profits have returned, and revenues have increased. The airlines can no longer plead poverty when it comes to safety. It’s well past time to take on the issue of pilot fatigue.”
The FAA has launched 21 attempts to overhaul the regulations since they were first published in 1924, with the most recent attempt in 1995. With the exception of domestic rule changes in 1985, all of these attempts failed due to a lack of consensus among industry and government.
“In the post-9/11 era, airline understaffing and over-scheduling have forced pilots to work longer duty days, fly more hours, and at times push their bodies beyond what is safe or healthy,” said Prater. “Fatigue has been a growing problem within the entire transportation industry for some time, but it has now reached an alarming level for pilots.”
ALPA created a Pilot Fatigue Task Force in 2006 to examine scientific studies on fatigue, existing regulations, and changes that had occurred as a result of the bankruptcy/restructuring negotiations. Based on this research, the group recommended a three-prong approach to mitigating pilot fatigue: urge Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration to revise flight- and duty-time regulations, improve work rules through the collective bargaining process, and develop an information campaign to provide pilots with fatigue mitigation strategies on the job.
That research will form the foundation of ALPA’s Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel. ALPA Vice-President–Finance/Treasurer, Capt. Chris Beebe will chair the Panel. Panel members include Capt. Don Wykoff (Delta), chairman, Flight & Duty Time Committee; Capt. Terry McVenes (US Airways), Executive Air Safety Chairman; Capt. James Foster (ExpressJet), Aeromedical Committee chairman; and Capt. Martin Gauthier (Air Transat) from ALPA’s Canada Board. A representative of ALPA’s Collective Bargaining Committee will also be appointed.
“The Fatigue Blue Ribbon Panel members bring a wealth of expertise and experience to this complex issue,” said Capt. Beebe. “We need to look at fatigue from every possible angle, and this is exactly the group of individuals who can accomplish our goals.”
The Panel is charged with analyzing current domestic, international, and cargo operations; reviewing the latest science on fatigue; comparing U.S. and Canadian regulations with those of Europe and Asia; and performing an economic analysis of how any change to the current situation would affect airline staffing requirements. Following this, the Panel will develop specific proposals to mitigate pilot fatigue, including regulatory, legislative, and communications initiatives. The Panel is expected to present its final report and recommendations to the ALPA Executive Board in May 2008.
Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 60,000 pilots at 41 airlines in Canada and the U.S. For more information, visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440