Rest arrangements

I flew recently on a new aircraft type and I had significant concerns regarding the crew rest arrangements on this type and its impact on crew and passenger communication. The aircraft do not operate long range routes with extended FDPs, however are often found operating with a planned FDP of up to 12 hours

The main concern I have is that when crew are on rest, there is no access to any interphones at Doors 2 or 4, which is where most of the crew will be found on duty. There is one handset accessible at D1 and one handset each at D3L/R, in the middle of the cabin where no crew are stationed inflight. This is a serious inhibitor to communication between crew in each cabin: I don’t feel I need to list the reasons why this impacts negatively on safety.

The Cabin Attendant Panels are located at 2L and 4L, which means no access to lighting controls, call bell indications, dimmable windows etc. IFE and PED power control panels are at 2R and 4R, so they also are not accessible during these times, which means we cannot switch off a customer’s PED power if they are asleep with a device plugged in, nor perform IFE resets without waking crew on rest (granted this is a customer service issue but can impact on crew rest and managing fatigue if the crew member resting is continually disturbed).

Further disturbance is inevitable to the crew member resting at D1R, as this is situated in the working section of the galley, in front of the sink and beverage makers which non-resting crew should reasonably need to access between services.

Another issue is the lack of seating for crew on duty during breaks. With up to 3 hours standing in a galley following the main service before or after a break begins, there is a temptation to sit on canisters which is something my airline does not allow: the fact remains that is not unreasonable to expect to be allowed to sit down at some point in the 5.5-6 hours between take off and your rest break.

This becomes heightened during moderate/severe turbulence, which we experienced during the flight. The captain informed the crew member on duty alone at in the FWD galley to expect severe turbulence, but they could not call the crew in the mid or aft galleys to inform them.

That crew member was able to sit in the inboard rear facing seat at 1L which is not curtained off, however the rest of the crew on duty had nowhere to sit and had to hold on to the galley structure to steady themselves. At 2L and 2R, although there are two seats at each door, only one can be used when the other is occupied during rest as there is a leg rest that stops the 2nd seat from being deployed.

CAA Comment

There are no Cabin Crew inflight rest facilities on this type so FDP cannot be extended as cabin crew will be the limiting factor. This type can only be used for non- augmented crew. The flight would be able to be operated using the maximum daily FDP table under ORO.FTL.205 (b). Regarding accommodation for crew nutrition breaks, the operator is only required to comply with UK Retained Regulation ORO.FTL. 240 (a) & (b), AMC1 ORO.FTL.240 which states that during the FDP, there shall be the opportunity for a meal and drink to avoid any detriment to a crew members performance especially when the FDP exceeds 6 hours.

The operator is required to specify how a crew member’s nutrition during an FDP is ensured and to specify the minimum duration of the meal opportunity, but there is no requirement in the regulations for accommodation, comfy seats for these breaks (they are fitted on this type). These seats are an ‘extra’ and they are not used to increase FDP.

As previously mentioned, inflight rest is not a requirement to operate this sector, the minimum break required during this duty is a nutritional / meal opportunity break. If the service and timings allow, some operators permit crew on these longer sectors to take a longer rest period, some do not.

It is important that crew have their refreshment breaks, however during a break or rest, safety must remain the priority. Access to interphones, cabin attendant panels etc can still be gained and used discreetly as to minimise the impact on the crew member.

When informed by the captain that severe turbulence was expected, the forward crew member should have called their colleagues to advise them of the expected turbulence (or communicated in line with operators procedures).

During turbulence, as with other aircraft types, crew can occupy any spare passenger seats and any vacant crew seat if necessary to ensure their immediate safety.