11th December 2023

Potential and actual fatigue due to poor rostering

Initial Report

My operator is rostering their cabin crew within minutes of their maximum FDP. Any small issue will require Captain’s discretion, as otherwise the crew would go out of hours. These issues aren’t medical or other unforeseen circumstances, but the unrealistic flight and turnaround times my operator rosters their cabin crew with. As an example, I was on a four sector day starting with a report time of 05:55 the day was long and we had a small delay into AAA which led us to be over 10 mins over our max FDP. It’s not a lot, but because these things happen a lot and seem to become a pattern, they become a problem.

Company Comment

Thank you for reporting your concerns. We appreciate the importance a roster is to our cabin crew.¬† When cabin crew report for their duty, they are reporting for the maximum flight duty period (FDP) for example a two-sector trip reporting at 9 am, the cabin crew can work up to 14 hours. Captain’s discretion is used, when unforeseen factors out of the Captain’s control start to erode on all of the crews’ hours.

Cabin crew rosters are planned to a local scheduling agreement which contains an enhanced framework compared to the regulatory requirements such as sector duration, trip patterns, days off etc. We encourage our cabin crew to report roster concerns, whether potential or actual using a cabin safety report. Fatigue reports are reviewed in a separate meeting where trends are reviewed. When reports are submitted, this allows the various teams to investigate the rostering systems and determine whether any follow up or change is required.

CAA Comment

The use of commander’s discretion is closely monitored by the CAA to identify those flights subject to higher levels of reporting and the contributing factors. High levels of discretion may result in changes to rostering.

CHIRP Comment

In recent months, CHIRP has received an increasing number of reports regarding the usage of the commander’s discretion and the belief that it is being relied on in some rosters. Commander‚Äôs discretion should not be used on a planned basis but is intended to be employed for those unplanned and unforeseen circumstances and delays that occur which would take the crew beyond their FDP limit. The use of commander‚Äôs discretion is not a safety issue in itself provided it is managed properly.

CHIRP has presented these reports to the CAA in aggregate and has asked that they consider both reviewing the specific companies’ policies on discretion and the reality of actual current rosters. As a result, the CAA have focused some of their oversight activities for particular airlines in this area and have commented that there needs to be a better understanding of discretion within the industry overall. In recognising this, the CAA have recently published an open letter to operator’s giving more detailed guidance and advice on what discretion is and the rules for its use which is now available on the CHIRP website.

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