The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the extension of cabin crew duty without consultation.
The reporter advised that recently they were rostered on a full day domestic duty. Due to delays during the day, the crew’s rostered mid duty 1:45 hours rest was cancelled. On the last flight, the aircraft was diverted due to weather at the destination. The aircraft was on the ground for a short period for refuelling and the cabin manager had advised the entire cabin crew team that they would liaise with them once central operations had been contacted, as everyone knew that if the flight was to continue, cabin crew would be going over their 12 hour legal maximum duty.
During this period on the ground, whilst waiting for a discussion to take place about if they as cabin crew were prepared, fit and safe to continue, without the promised consultation, the cabin doors were closed and the cabin crew and passengers were informed that the flight was departing.
The reporter advised that during the approach they were experiencing micro sleeps.
Reporter comment: This was a breakdown of crew resource management. Although a dispensation was granted by the union, as per standard procedure, that does not mean that crew are fit to operate. There was no consultation with the cabin crew. There were no welfare checks to see if crew were fit to operate and they were not given any input into the decision nor the ability to voice their concerns.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
Rest provisions are planned in accordance with the enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA). In the event of a disruption or delay, these planned rest periods may be reduced. The cabin manager will make alternative rest arrangements in flight and amend the service accordingly if needed.
In relation to the cabin manager contacting the operations department, this would be required as it is assumed that the tour of duty was going to exceed 12 hours planned. Operations would have been required to seek dispensation from the associated union to continue with this pattern as per the EBA provisions.
It is a requirement that the operations department speak with the cabin manager, as the manager of the crew at this time, to ensure that the communication is consistent and accurate. The cabin manager should then speak with the crew about the result of their discussion with the operations department and the agreement that the union and the company have reached.
It should be noted that it is the individual crewmembers responsibility to advise if they are fit to continue to operate and raise with the cabin manager should they not feel fit. Cabin crew are trained in fatigue management during initial training, recurrent training and fatigue information is located on the company crew website. There are documented procedures for a crewmember to follow if they believe they are unfit for duty at any time either before, during or after a duty.
Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
CASA has reviewed the REPCON and notes that regulations governing duty times and rest requirements are explicit for pilots, and are articulated in Civil Aviation Order 48 (as varied by exemptions). There is no similar regulation that is applicable to cabin crew.
Matters regarding cabin crew fatigue are managed through the organisation’s safety management system (SMS). The crewmember should submit a safety report through the SMS. The operator is obliged to consider the content of the reports in the context of the safety of the operation. CASA audits the SMS for effectiveness.