Summer is particularly busy, any year. But this year is even more so: From airport security and baggage handlers through Air Traffic Control to pilots – the entire system cringes under pressure and operates with tiny buffers as the post-COVID ramp up of operations is taking place. A summer of disruptions, flight cancellations and aircrew fatigue has started and will likely worsen in the coming weeks.
Crew fatigue, during the workday, or piling up over days or weeks, is therefore a realistic and imminent threat!
As a pilot, remember that being rested and fully alert is key for safe operations. Therefore:
- If you cannot get enough sleep and/or feel unfit to fly, call in unfit and get rested. This is a legal obligation.
- if you get fatigued during the day, preventing you from safely performing your duty, call in fatigued and step down from duty before the next flight. This is also a legal obligation.
- if asked by your airline to extend your flight times under ‘Commanders Discretion’ – e.g. due to delays accumulated during the day – check your own and your colleagues’ alertness levels, and if you or other crew members are fatigued, do not extend. Again, this is your legal obligation. (see ECA’s guidance here)
- if asked by your management to fly on your Days Off, check your alertness level and consider whether this additional duty will allow you to subsequently rest and recover sufficiently for your next flight duties. If in doubt, stay at home.
- if in doubt about the maximum flight times allowed under EU law, download the ECA Flight Time Limitations calculator on iTunes | Google Play
- if fatigued – report it! This is your obligation by law. Use your airline’s reporting form and procedure; if not available, use the ECA Guidance & Reporting template here.
- if your airline’s management exerts pressure on you or your colleagues to fly while fatigued, or threatens disciplinary measures, contact your national union, and have it reported to your national authority and ECA. If needed, ECA will alert EASA. You may also directly use EASA’s Confidential Safety Reporting channel to report any safety relevant ‘malpractices and irregularities’.