The Transportation Safety Board is encouraging Transport Canada to continue efforts to address fatigue management in aviation.
In a statement released on Wednesday, TSB Chair Kathy Fox said fatigue was a factor in about 20 percent of the rail accidents it has investigated since 1994 and “we have made a number of findings about fatgue in our aviation investigations over the years.”
The comments came two weeks after an address by sleep and fatigue expert Daniel Mollicone at the Air Transport Association of Canada annual meeting in Montreal.
Mollicone said the impact of fatigue is both predictable and therefore preventable and said there are proven scheduling and human resources strategies that sharply curtail fatigue-related mistakes and accidents.
Transport Canada is now sorting through comments received on its proposed fatigue management rule changes and many smaller operators say they are aimed at big airlines and will unduly hamper smaller companies.
In general, the proposed rules reduce the number of hours pilots can fly to 1,000 a year and reduce the duty day from 14 hours to between nine and 13 hours, depending on when they occur. The greatest restriction occurs between midnight and four a.m., the so-called circadian low period when humans are most likely to make fatigue-related errors.
Air North President Joe Sparling told the ATAC meeting the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the new rules will increase costs, and therefore air fares in the North.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau, speaking to delegates via Skype, disputed Sparling’s claim and said there is flexibility in the new regs, including the ability to extend hours under special circumstances. Operators can also create their own fatigue risk management system that incorporates their own operational requirements but achieves a matching level of operational safety as the written regs. He also noted they will be phased in over four years for smaller operators.
The regs were issued in the Canada Gazette on July 1 and the comment period has closed. The final regs will be released in coming months.