Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201700032
Date reported 29 March 2018
Concern title Stress being placed on cabin crew during normal duties
Concern summary

The concern related to the stress being placed on cabin crew in their normal duties by emergency procedure spot checks.

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

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the stress which is placed on cabin crew during their normal duties.

The reporter advised that on a regular basis, they could be called in to conduct a spot check on their emergency procedures. This has the effect that cabin crew are always stressed on their way to work. There is no extra time allowed for cabin crew to undergo these checks. During the spot checks, cabin crew have to recite word perfectly the emergency procedures they are being tested on, if they fail on any point, they may not be allowed to fly that day.

If they are called in to undertake the spot check and pass the testing, they will often miss the safety brief, which is conducted before the flight they are rostered to fly on. This means that they are then unprepared for the flight. On occasions, the cabin crew will have to run to meet the aircraft and are then flustered and unprepared which then can mean that they can inadvertently make an error (incorrectly arm a door) which then creates more stress.

The reporter also advised that they have a regular annual check for emergency procedures. This check was previously treated as an annual refresher-training course to brush up on procedures which generally you only use on a practical level at the refresher training. This has now become an assessment. Cabin crew are given computer-based training and then have to perform the procedures, again word perfectly, and if they fail they are required to undergo retraining.

Reporter’s comment: This is putting a lot of stress mentally and emotionally on crew. People who are usually very secure in their processes are feeling stressed and vulnerable by the pressures placed on them by the company. That is not right; our manuals talk about a day of training, not just assessment. Why should we be fearing for our jobs when it is a training day.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

The [operator] annual emergency procedures proficiency check complies with CAO 20:11 Appendix 4 (1988) and the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Standards Manual, which requires blended training and assessment. The assessment of impact drills and commands is the only section of the check day that crew are expected to complete word perfectly. This ensures crew coordination and avoids passenger confusion in the event of an incident.

Computer based training modules are stand-alone training; the topics covered online are not connected to the practical assessments, crew aren’t expected to remember the computer based training content in order to pass a practical assessment.  The responsibilities for aircrew undertaking their proficiency check are detailed explicitly in the Aircrew Emergency Procedures Manual (1.11.4); all aircrew are required to take ownership of their training and are responsible for the maintenance of their emergency procedures knowledge. We provide extensive revision material on the crew website to support the crew.

Our annual emergency procedures check is subject to continuous improvement practices, sourcing feedback from crew via an online survey set-up for this purpose. [Operator] flight training remains committed to providing excellence in emergency procedures training through defining our standards in line with CASA regulations and ensuring compliance with CASA and IOSA regulations.

We have an Employee Assistance Program available for any employees who may be experiencing anxiety.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the REPCON and is satisfied with the operator’s response. The emergency procedures check, including line readiness review (LRR) assessment procedures, have been in place since 2009 and complies with CAO 20.11 (Appendix IV) requirements. CASA conducts audits of the operator’s safety management system, including sampling reporting activity. To date, there is no significant indication of an increase in the overall risk that this additional task places on normal operations at the sign-on stage of the duty period. CASA will be including the information in future surveillance activities.

Last update 12 July 2018