On 22 April 2018, the AFAP provided a submission in response to CASA’s Fatigue Rules Independent Review. We welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback to the Independent Review of Australian Fatigue Rules for Operators and Pilots (2018). The AFAP agrees with many of the review report’s points and recommendations, however we believe 9 out of 24 recommendations are inappropriate and unfitting to the Australian aviation industry in which we operate. The areas of issue the AFAP has with this review are; it uses benchmarks against international averages rather than best practice, scientific data has been ignored and it preferences commercial interests over safety. 

Disappointment with focus on averaging over best practice

The use of international averages is problematic and does not take into consideration the extent to which the original limits of the comparison jurisdictions were a compromise, or indeed if they are insufficient themselves. It is disappointing to see this review team give lesser weight to the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) compared to the outcomes of other state regulators, which have their own unique struggles with implementing best practice fatigue rules. 

Desktop comparison over scientific data

The tone of the review appears to dismiss scientific evidence and instead relies on the “desktop” comparison to other jurisdictions, omitting ICAO almost entirely. This is antithetical to the tone of CASA’s own paper which is very analytical and science based (A review of the case for change: Scientific support for CAO 48.1 Instrument 2013). It seems bizarre that the CASA terms of reference for the independent review would overlook such a wealth of scientific information as described in CASAs own research summary.

Commerce over safety

Furthermore, the AFAP believes that commercial interests have been given precedence over conclusive scientific evidence on the subject of fatigue. The AFAP is concerned that there is a preference for appeasing commercial interests over championing the underpinning safety philosophies of this much-needed reform. 

In response, the AFAP Safety & Technical Department has provided six further recommendations as detailed below:

  1. That CAO 48.1 includes an internationally recognised definition of the Window of Circadian Low (WOCL). The current implied definition of local night is at odds with the ICAO SARPs and other regulators.  

  2. Extended duties limits: The AFAP recommends improving the prescriptive limits to reflect international fatigue science.   

  3. Ensure that sleep opportunity is realistic.  

  4. That the regulator regularly surveys for commercial pilot fatigue.

  5. Include pilot representation in fatigue working groups within organisations.  

  6. Include Professional Pilot representation on the CASA Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). 

While we consider that CASA’s Fatigue Rules Independent Reviewis ultimately a positive step towards finalising fatigue regulation reform in Australian aviation, there are a number of concerns and objections related to the report that CASA must address. 

 To read the full AFAP Submission in Response to CASA's Fatigue Rules Independent Review 2018, please: click here


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