ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) fatigue risk management investigation framework is the spotlight of the last edition of the Journal published by ISASI (International Society of Air Safety Investigators) in December 2017. Although the risk is broadly categorized as organizational or individual/group-focused, ATSB identifies five areas of fatigue risk:
- fatigue-related errors
- ability to maintain adequate alertness while on duty
- sleep obtained (quality and quantity)
- provision of adequate sleep opportunity
- organizational support for maintaining risks of fatigue impairment
An organization’s FRMS (Fatigue Risk Management System) policy, procedures and practices are reviewed in any investigation, as well as the training process, reporting trends and the systems for analysing the workforce occurrences and risks.
It is absolutely necessary to provide the crew members with an adequate opportunity to develop skills or utilize tools that could best help the, identify signs in themselves or others. Comprehensive training in fatigue management makes a difference for self-assessment.
As Dawson & McCulloch stated on their theoretical review: Managing fatigue: It’s about sleep, FRMS must be part of the SMS and not merely adjusted to the regulatory requirements, as externally imposed prescriptive rules. FRMS should, this way, follow the same SMS principles that would apply for any other identifiable safety hazard.
ECA (European Cockpit Association) also point out on a post by Peter Bear, that regrettable, fatigue reports are too rare. Maybe some roster changes take place but no many formal reports are filed. If there were indeed reports then significant data would be revealed, so that the organization could set up adequate roosters, flight rotations and duty combinations.
Since 2010, EUROCONTROL listed 24 accidents or serious incidents where fatigue was identified as a contributing factor.
A joint effort is necessary to act against fatigue hazard. A properly designed and conducted FRMS is a promising step forward. Operators, pilots and regulators must gain experience with the new safety management environment in respect to fatigue. But once this experience is gained, we may expect to have considerably fewer reports of accidents and serious incidents stating fatigue as a contributing factor.
Picture by Jalomir Chalabala.