26th October 2022

Company communications

Initial Report

My employer regularly sends texts to its pilots late in the evening as they seek to find crew for departures early the next morning. This means that anyone responding has disturbed their rest only a few hours before reporting for duty. An example of this is below:

Text message receipt timed at 22:37.

Good evening from [Crew Control] – Sorry for late text.  We have the following flight available tomorrow, if you can help with this, please call Ops.

[Flight No]; [Route]; Report-0500; Depart-0610

Thanks [Crew Control]

I feel uneasy about the quality of rest that a pilot would have achieved if they respond to texts such as these sent so late in the evening. This seems to be an established process and has occurred numerous times.

CHIRP Comment

‘Out of hours’ company communications is a theme that reappears now and again and it’s one that we’ve debated within CHIRP many times before.  The general view being that it’s highly dependent on circumstances and wholly down to individuals whether or not they respond in light of their individual responsibility to adhere to FTL requirements. That being said, although FTL adherence is a personal responsibility, companies need to be alert to the risks of crews being induced to work duties that might impinge on rest requirements and so such communications need to be appropriately targeted and with sufficient warnings about the need for individuals to ensure they meet their personal FTL obligations.

When we have engaged with companies on this in the past, although they acknowledge that some might feel pressured to accept extra duties, they comment that it is entirely an individual’s choice and that they have to retain the ability to seek volunteers to fill vacant duties due to unforeseen circumstances; especially in the current circumstances of reduced crew availability etc. For those who are not able to respond because they know that they must wait for FTL rest times to be satisfied, the option to turn off notifications on their phone is the best way of avoiding disturbance; this can be done selectively these days so that important emergency contacts can still call through but those that you wish to block can be excluded for specified times.

The bottom-line is that peoples’ rest periods and FDP cycles are all different and so it is conceivable that the duty highlighted could be legally performed by someone who was in the right phase of their FTL cycle.  Therefore, although we would prefer to have seen a more nuanced approach to targeting and warnings about FTL requirements, it was appropriate for the company to send out requests like this because ultimately it is for individuals to look at their rosters and take personal responsibility for ensuring that they are legal to operate before they accept such additional duties.

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