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Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201500096
Date reported 18 November 2015
Concern title Cabin Crew fatigue
Concern summary

The concern related to the fatigue experienced by a cabin crewmember after six consecutive shifts

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Cabin safety

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the fatigue which they suffered on the last day of six consecutive shifts.

The reporter advised that as a cabin crewmember, they were rostered to fly six consecutive days. Three nights of the six were away from home. The reporter advised that on the last day, which was rostered as over ten hours, they reported that they were fatigued after completing three sectors and were sent home. The fatigue risk management system (FRMS) and all information and advisories provided to the crew member note that only the crew member themselves may determine if they are fit to fly or fatigued or not. They were subsequently advised that their fatigue had been denied and it was deemed only as 'crew tiredness’. The fatigue was denied by a group (two flight attendants, one pilot, one IT worker and the cabin crew manager), none of whom are medically qualified to do so. The reporter then had personal leave deducted for the incident. The reporter advised that this has happened to a number of cabin crewmembers.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Fatigue management is viewed as a sub-set of our Safety Management System and is reported and analysed through all levels of our safety governance structure.

 

An FRMS is ultimately about managing the risk of fatigue within a defined environment or work setting, not only managing the work/flight and duty times of operational personnel.

As such, the management of fatigue related risk is a shared responsibility between individuals and the company.

The company has a responsibility to provide compliant rostering to the relevant regulations and industrial agreements.

The duty times and consecutive day roster the reporter described are available as part of the current industrial agreements. Rostering of these duties are preferred to be minimised by the company, however an employee's roster bidding preferences can make these duties more likely.

The employee has the responsibility to report fatigue issues to the company, not fly when they determine they are fatigued, and ensure that their lifestyle allows them to present for each rostered duty in a fit state to complete the rostered duty.

All fatigue safety reports submitted by employees are reviewed and risk rated against our risk assessment guide. These meetings are run with a minimum quorum of members from the airline operations management team who hold oversight and safety responsibilities within their defined area.

The risk assessment process includes a review of possible causal factors that could contribute to increased fatigue levels, these include:

  • rostered duties
  • actual duty completed
  • cumulative duty hours
  • rest opportunities
  • operational delays
  • disruption or
  • significant operational events.

For each fatigue report, the risk assessment process determines what the most likely expected outcome of the report is. If it is determined that the company has met all required obligations and hasn't taken actions or decisions increasing the likelihood of fatigue then the expected outcome of the report is allocated as ‘crew tiredness’.

Fatigue is never denied by the company, once an employee reports themselves unfit for duty due to fatigue, it is policy that they are removed from the duty.

It is important however, that the reporter reports their fatigue situation using a specific online form, which enables us to effectively respond to the reporter.

We are always open for employees to consult with their line managers on decisions regarding the allocation of leave when unfit for duty. We encourage the reporter to come forward if they require further clarification.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the REPCON and the operator’s manuals and procedures in relation to this matter. CASA has determined that there is no evidence of non-compliance by the Operator and is satisfied with the response provided.

ATSB comment

While the ATSB recognises that there is a legal responsibility for the operator to ensure that their rosters comply with the relevant regulations, there is also a safety responsibility on the operator to ensure that crew are not exposed to fatigue while on duty. When operators receive reports that crew are fatigued, these reports should be investigated to ensure company rostering is not a contributing factor.

 
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Last update 12 September 2016