The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the provision of transport to cabin crew when they are rostered for a back of clock duty. These duties from Sydney to either [location 1] or [location 2] are extremely fatiguing. The cabin crew sign on at 1945 with sign off after 0645.
The reporter advised that cabin crew are not provided with transport from their homes to the airport so will have their vehicles at the airport. Even though they are fatigued, cabin crew will often drive their cars home creating a safety hazard to both themselves and other road users. [Operator] will provide them with transport back to the airport to collect their car but this is then in their off duty rest time.
[Operator] has acknowledged that this is a safety concern by providing flight crew with transport both to and from home for these duties. This provision should be provided to cabin crew.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
We take the fatigue and safety of our cabin crew very seriously.
We established a Cabin Crew Fatigue Management Working Group (CCFMWG) to review reports from cabin crew and track statistical trends relating to fatigue. This working group meets on a monthly basis and recommends actions to address any fatigue risk.
As a result of the CCFMWG, a number of actions have been recommended and implemented to address the concerns raised by the author.
The first is for the ability for cabin crew to access a taxi to their home after what they assess themselves as a fatiguing duty, and then the ability at a later stage to return to collect their vehicle. Alternatively, they may access a hotel after the duty to gain adequate rest before driving home.
The second action implemented recently was the blocking of 3 seats in the last row on all [aircraft type] back of clock flights. This provides the cabin crew with guaranteed seats to gain rest during the flight.
The author mentions the current trial we are conducting with the pilots in relation to transport to Sydney Airport for certain duties. This trial was introduced as a result of a recommendation by the Flight Standards Steering Committee (FSSC), following specific data analysis. The CCFMWG looked at a number of options for cabin crew to manage fatigue on back of clock duties and eventually decided on the two actions outlined above. These actions are applied broadly across all of the network.
Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
CASA has reviewed the REPCON and notes that there are currently no Australian civil aviation regulations governing duty times and rest requirements for cabin crew. The operator’s cabin crew duty limitations are set contractually. Nevertheless, CASA’s role is to assess the airline’s system, including documented policies and procedures, designed to manage cabin crew fatigue. Part of that role includes ascertaining that the safety concerns raised have been appropriately assessed and are being managed by the operator.
CASA understood the operator’s response to the reporter’s concerns as follows:
- [Operator] blocks 3 seats in the last row from sale on all [aircraft type] back-of-the-clock flights to provide the cabin crew with an opportunity rest during the flight.
- Cabin crew are provided a taxi to their home after what they consider to be a fatiguing back-of-the-clock duty. This gives them the ability at a later stage to return to collect their vehicle when they are not fatigued; or
- Cabin crew are provided access to an airport hotel after what they consider to be a fatiguing back-of-the-clock duty to allow them to gain adequate rest before driving home.
In this instance, the operator’s policy to provide either a room or a taxi home is consistent with industry best FRMS practice. The options provided to cabin crew to manage their personal safety and wellbeing were verified during recent audit activity. CASA is satisfied with the operator’s response and has verified this during recent audit activity.
It is acknowledged that where a cabin crew member elects to take a taxi home and then returns to the airport in their own time to pick up their car that their free time is being impinged upon. However, the operator does provide the crew member the option to stay in an airport hotel and then drive home once they have rested and they feel it is safe to do so. This option would not impinge on the crew member’s free time any more than if they drove home directly after completion of their duty.