Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201600004
Date reported 11 January 2016
Concern title Fatigue in the ground operations controller position
Concern summary

The concerns related to the experienced fatigue in the ground operations controller.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Ground handling

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern relating to the fatigue management procedures employed by [operator] for the role of the Ground Operations Controller.

The reporter advised that this is a safety critical role dealing with:

  • fuel figures
  • freight figures
  • creation of operations sheet
  • point of contact for all operational requirements for the airport operations.

The reporter advised that this role is currently filled by a single person on an eleven-hour shift. There are no rostered breaks, including toilet breaks and if delays occur, the shift is extended.

Other airlines operate this as a team.

Reporter comment:
The concern is that mistakes will be made in calculating safety critical information due to the fatigue experienced by the Ground Operations Controller.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

The operator’s port management provided the response below in response to the report regarding fatigue on the Ground Operations Controller (GOC) roster. As part of our internal processes, a detailed fatigue analysis was undertaken. In addition, management had been reviewing the GOC rosters resulting in enhancements to the work group’s roster patterns.

A report was additionally provided via our internal reporting system and the below has been furnished to the reporter outlining the port level follow up.

Hi, thanks for your report.

There has been an unusual amount of disruption during the busy peak period and we understand that the requirement to stay back and extend shift times has increased in this period.

At the same time we have had a review of the current roster to ensure that time is now included on roster so there is no requirement to stay back as the hours are covered on planned roster.

Meal breaks and toilet breaks. We have never rostered toilet breaks - however the [role] or any other person can hold the phone and radio for a toilet break - my assumption being based on the toilet being in close proximity to the GOC office and it is likely to take less than 5 mins.

Meal breaks have always been taken in down periods for this role due to the operational nature of the job – [position 1] or [position 2] will check to make sure a person is ok and if they need time out. I am aware of the reporter being given breaks by another GOC and management on occasions. It is my understanding that during the down periods such as the gaps in the program is when the GOC has meal breaks and can leave the area as needed, I know also that you like to leave the office and work mobile with the radios from the concourse at times, which is great.

I would ask if you ever feel the need to step away, as an experienced and senior member of the team you simply ask – call the [position 1 or 2] or myself so we can relieve you or arrange cover.

We have also taken into consideration the peak workload and have taken this into account in the new roster, this was already work in progress prior to your safety report but thanks for raising the issue. I hope you find the new roster and cover more acceptable and it helps with the issue you have raised, we are happy to receive feedback directly via email or face to face anytime.

In addition, the operator has purchased a resource rostering system. We are currently revising fatigue ruling to ensure staff are not exposed to fatigue when operating. All GOC rosters will be generated via this software system commencing April 2016, which will further address any potential risk of fatigue for this occupational group.

The operator takes the safety and wellbeing of employees and contractors very seriously, as such ongoing monitoring to ensure the adequacy of the revised rostering profile will be undertaken.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the matters raised in the REPCON and notes that the operator’s response does not take into consideration reporting through the organisation’s safety management systems (SMS). CASA supports the promotion of reporting potential safety concerns to the SMS, including fatigue events, in order for the operator to identify areas where they should focus resources to reduce operational risk, including fatigue risk. CASA is addressing this matter with the airline.

Last update 12 July 2018