Canada’s aviation regulator is proposing new regulations that would reduce the maximum number of hours that pilots would be allowed to be on flight duty and mandate a “holistic risk management approach” in some cases, to addressing the problem of air crew fatigue.
The federal government recently published a regulatory impact analysis statement on proposed amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations, with a public comment period until Sept. 29.
“The proposed rules will limit the amount of time a crew member can be on the job, and help operators manage fatigue risk in order to better protect Canadians,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a press release June 30.
The new regulations, if implemented, would add new rules and “introduce a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) exemption mechanism for all air transport services in Canada (excluding private operators and aerial work operators),” Transport Canada said in the impact analysis statement, published July 1 in the Canada Gazette.
Some firms would have the option to “deviate” from some of Transport Canada’s proposed rules “provided they can demonstrate, by way of a safety case, that they can provide at least the same level of safety” as the requirements in the proposed new regulations.
With an FRMS, air operators would “identify and minimize the acute and chronic sources of fatigue and manage the potential risks associated with fatigue,” Transport Canada said. “An FRMS is a holistic risk management approach” in which companies would identify hazards, assess risk, develop mitigation strategies, offer training and education programs, introduce fatigue monitoring systems and “adopt continual improvement processes to reflect changing circumstances,” among others, Transport Canada said.
The FRMS would be an option for certain operators, including those subject to Subpart 705 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, which “represents about 61% of Canadian commercial airline industry, and it is dominated by Air Canada, Jazz Aviation and WestJet Airlines Ltd.”
Canadian Aviation Regulations currently have a flight duty time limit of 14 hours in a 24-hour period.
“A workday of 14 consecutive hours is considered too long a duty period to maintain performance throughout,” Transport Canada said in its impact analysis statement. “The proposed regulatory amendment would introduce a range of flight duty period from 9 to 13 hours.”
Under current regulations, “after completing a flight duty period,” a pilot is required to “receive a rest period of eight hours plus time for travel, meals, and personal hygiene,” Transport Canada says.
The proposed new rule, for pilots at their home base, would mandate a rest time of 12 consecutive hours or 11 consecutive hours plus travel time. The rest time would be 10 hours “if the air operator provides a suitable accommodation.” For pilots away from home base, “a period of 10 consecutive hours in a suitable accommodation would be required.’
Currently, pilots must have “at least 36 consecutive hours of time free from duty within each consecutive seven days,” Transport Canada said. “The proposed amendment changes the current requirements for time free from duty by introducing a period of time free from duty of 33 consecutive hours in eight days (i.e. 192 consecutive hours), in which the time free from duty would begin no later than 22:30 and end no earlier than 07:30 on the second subsequent morning,” Transport Canada stated. “Although this reduces the total time free from duty by 3 hours, this amendment would require that time free from duty occur over the course of two nights (two quality sleep opportunities) and provide the flight crew with the opportunity for recovery from the effects of cumulative fatigue.”