11th December 2023

Legality of long-day two sector duties

Initial Report

We, as do many other airlines, operate flights to AAA as there and back duties all in one day.

For example, tomorrow I am reporting for a AAA, this is rostered as an extended duty.

How is this duty is legal? How is anyone supposed to be expected to be at work for 14 hours and 35 especially since we are flying where your body is working twice as hard due to the pressurisation and altitude?

People on the ground will be at work for roughly 8 hours on average and have a break during this time. A break where they can actually shut off, have some alone time and get away from the “shop floor”. On the aircraft there is nowhere to take a comfortable break and absolutely zero chance of not being disturbed when you do take a seat on an extremely uncomfortable jump seat or worse, an atlas box placed on the floor. People are not robots, our bodies need to be taken care of. We need rest and time to recoup. This is absolutely impossible on this aircraft during this duty.

Something being deemed legal by someone sitting behind a desk is one thing, but actually going out and operating these duties is a completely different story. Nowhere else would you find an employee going to work to be at work for this amount of time with nowhere to take a break or rest. This isn’t even factoring in the time that you actually wake up before the duty, travel to work and then again travel home and get out of uniform etc.

Long haul duties of the same amount of hours as a AAA or BBB are rostered around 3 hours mandatory crew rest. How then is it “legal” to have absolutely no rest whatsoever on a duty of this length on a single aisle aircraft? Any duty of this length should have rest. Whether that be on board the aircraft or as a night stop at the destination.

Company Comment

We are is grateful to the reporter for raising this report to CHIRP. These long sector flights are recognised as being some of the more challenging flights from a fatigue perspective and are therefore carefully monitored from both an FTL and FRM basis. They have been regularly reviewed at the Flight Safety Action Group (FSAG) and we are constantly monitoring these duties proactively and reactively through surveys, predictive and actual fatigue reporting, occurrences, hazard reporting and trend analysis. Crew members are actively encouraged to take breaks on these longer duties to mitigate fatigue in accordance with the Operations Manual and explanatory fatigue material. We use crew rest areas on our wide body aircraft driven primarily by the FTL requirements of long haul operations.

We are always looking to improve, and our fatigue management programme has recently proven its effectiveness through actions taken from analysis of fatigue reports to increase pre and post flight rest opportunities around the more fatiguing duties. We actively encourage reporting which allows us to identify issues and trends and in turn address them. All our reports are handled confidentially and in accordance with our Just Culture. Reports can also be submitted anonymously should the reporter wish to protect their identity even further.

CAA Comment

The rostering of flying duty periods (FDP) is subject to the operator’s Flight Time Limitations (FTL) scheme approved by the CAA. Cabin crew should use their operator’s fatigue reporting scheme to enable identification of potentially fatiguing roster patterns and implementation of changes.

CHIRP Comment

CHIRP empathise with the crew on any long duty day as they can be very tiring. It is important on any duty to manage your breaks appropriately and if this requires the service to be adapted, then please speak to your SCCM who can support appropriate planning of crew breaks through the duty. Again, any adaptations or deviations should always be documented.

This report refers to an ‘extended duty’, an extended FDP allows the Flight Duty Period (FDP) for acclimatised crew members to be increased without the use of in-flight rest – this equates to an additional hour being applied to the FDP. With the duty being extended so is the amount of rest required, 4 additional hours rest must be included as either a pre and post-flight rest extension of 2 hours, or a post-flight rest increase of 4 hours. You cannot do more than 2 extended duties in any 7 consecutive days. An extended FDP duty must be planned in advance or the crew member must be on a specific standby that is to cover ‘extended duty’ flights.

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