Research report into Australian commercial pilots’ experiences with fatigue

The ATSB has released a research report outlining the results of a survey on experiences with fatigue by commercial pilots in Australia.

Research report into Australian commercial pilots’ experiences with fatigue

The research report, Fatigue experience and culture in Australian commercial air transport pilots (AR-2015-095), highlights the majority of pilot surveyed reported they were well rested at the end of their last duty.

Over half of the pilots reported having seven hours of sleep or more in the previous 24 hours, and over 60 per cent reported having more than 14 hours in the previous 48 hours at the end of their past duty.

ATSB Chief Commissioner, Greg Hood, said the report highlighted fatigue, and issues associated with fatigue, were not common in Australia, but some pilots do face operating in conditions conducive to fatigue.

“While small in number, some pilots did report operating in conditions consistent with thresholds that have been shown to be associated with impaired performance due to fatigue at the end of their last flight,” Mr Hood said. 

The report shows that 10 per cent of pilots reported obtaining less than five hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours, and 17 per cent reported they had less 12 hours in the previous 48 hours of their last fight.

The report also points to other areas for improvement, including organisational culture regarding the reporting of fatigue related issues.

“A third of surveyed pilots reported they had removed themselves from duty in the previous 12 months, however when they did this they reportedly felt it left a negative impression with management,” Mr Hood said.

“The responsibility to manage the risk of fatigue lies with both pilots and operators. Pilots need to use rest periods to get adequate sleep and remove themselves from duty if affected by fatigue and operators need to have polices in place to manage fatigue and create a work culture were pilots and crew can report fatigue in a supportive environment.”

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is currently consulting with industry on the introduction of the proposed CAO 48.1 Instrument 2019 – Modernising Australia’s Fatigue Rules.

High capacity regular public transport operators are required to transition to the new fatigue rules by 30 September 2019. All other operators will need to adopt the new fatigue requirements by 26 March 2020.

Advice on how pilots can manage their fatigue is also available on the CASA website.

Read the research report: Fatigue experience and culture in Australian commercial air transport pilots (AR-2015-095).

Last update 21 February 2019