Flight deck rest

I called the flight deck to make my routine check via interphone, there was no answer, this is concerning.

One FO was in flight crew rest, leaving an FO and Captain in the flight deck. I proceeded to enter the usual code into the flight deck door keypad, initially there was no answer, after a good 10 seconds I was allowed entry and asked to be quiet as the FO was in seat napping. The flight crew had not made the crew aware that both FO’s we’re napping at the same time.

Company Comment

Flight crew controlled rest as detailed in OMB,  the SCCM, or nominated deputy, should be briefed that flight crew controlled rest is planned. During the brief should agree the timing of a routine 30 min check on the Pilot Flying . The watch keeping pilot should notify the cabin crew when controlled rest is complete.

By the look of this report, the procedure was not correctly followed. XXX do not discourage controlled rest when the flight is operated by 3 pilots. Flight crew controlled rest may be necessary for example if a pilot fails to achieve good rest in the bunk (i.e. turbulence)

CAA Comment

Whilst this occurrence didn’t have adverse, consequences, it is appropriate to report such deviation from SOP using the operator’s reporting scheme. This enables the operator to assess potential risks and review the established procedure for effectiveness

CHIRP Cabin Crew Advisory Board (CCAB) Comment:

The pilot in command should have informed the senior cabin crew member of the intention for the flight crew member to take controlled rest (in seat napping) and frequent contact should be established between the non-resting flight crew member and the cabin crew.

Given historic industry incidents, the Captain’s failure to respond to the interphone call and the delay in responding to the flight deck door code being entered may have made the cabin crew member question what scenario they were about to confront. Cabin crew should query with the flight crew if they do not answer/make the calls as per the operator’s procedure as there may be a simple reason why the SOP was deviated from.


CHIRP Air Transport Advisory Board (ATAB) Comment

CHIRP has received a number of reports in the past from cabin crew regarding the procedure and practice of flight crew Controlled Rest, and it’s one of those areas where reminders about what the process should be are useful.

Controlled Rest is sometimes referred to as ‘in-seat-napping’ and is used by most UK operators. It is the process where the flight crew can be ‘off task’, including taking short periods of sleep, whilst temporarily being relieved of operational duties in accordance with company prescribed ‘controlled rest’ procedures.

UK regulations GM1 CAT.OP.MPA.210 ‘Crew members at stations’ describes the overall rules for conducting Controlled Rest, which is limited to 45mins per individual at any one time, with a maximum of 30mins asleep so that they don’t enter deep sleep/sleep inertia. Under Controlled Rest, one member of the flight crew should always be awake at all times and, although flight crew can sequentially take controlled rest, there should be 20mins between such periods to ensure that the crew member who has come out of rest is fully alert and briefed before the other one enters rest.

Controlled Rest should only be used during periods of reduced cockpit workload i.e. during cruise, and has been proved to increase alertness levels during other critical stages of flight such as the approach and landing. Some of the longer-range aircraft have designated rest areas for the flight crew to use but these should only be used when there are more than two flight crew rostered to operate the flight.

The need for flight crew to inform cabin crew that they are undertaking Controlled Rest is a fundamental requirement both to ensure that such periods are not interrupted by the cabin crew but also for safety reasons so that the cabin crew can ensure that both operating flight crew have not inadvertently fallen asleep.

The flight crew must tell the cabin crew how long they will be conducting Controlled Rest for, and the plan for regular contact intervals (e.g. every 30mins) to ensure that communications between the cabin crew and flight crew are maintained. In support of this, there should be procedures stated in the company’s OM-B for how controlled rest will be managed. When conducting contact at the prescribed interval, cabin crew should understand that an immediate response may not be possible if the awake flight crew member is busy with other tasks such as communicating with ATC or carrying out critical flight activities that delay them responding.