March 1, 2016
Fatigue mitigation, which has been an NBAA Safety Committee Top Safety Focus Area, continues to be a challenge for on-demand flight operations. However, an expert on the subject said there are a number of tools that flight departments can use to reduce the hazards of fatigue.
Daniel Mollicone, CEO of Pulsar Informatics, said that fatigue is a challenge for business aircraft operations because they frequently involve long duty hours, night flying, restricted sleep opportunities, as well as crossing time zones, all of which contribute to fatigue.
“Humans are not nocturnal,” said Mollicone. “This is a biological fact we cannot change or ignore. When we work at night, we are working against our own biology, increasing our level of fatigue risk and also putting those who are flying with us at risk.”
However, Mollicone noted that there are specific tools that can help mitigate fatigue, including bio-mathematical models to identify the flights that are operating at normal levels, and those flights that pose an elevated fatigue risk above acceptable limits.
“Fatigue risk of flight crews can now be mitigated using the same general approach,” he said. “The science of fatigue has seen great advances. We now have tools to quantitatively assess crew fatigue, forecast fatigue risk based on upcoming schedules, and apply practical interventions that reduce fatigue risk.”
“The need to proactively mitigate the hazard of fatigue is clearly evidenced by the 24/7 nature of business aviation, the severity of the consequences of fatigue, as well as the frequency with which fatigue is being reported as a concern,” said Mark Larsen, NBAA’s senior manager of safety and flight operations and the staff liaison to NBAA’s Safety Committee. “Therefore, NBAA recommends that business aviators proactively mitigate fatigue as part of a broader fitness-for-duty program that applies to all individuals who perform safety-sensitive functions.”
The subject of fatigue also will be addressed at the 61st annual Business Aviation Safety Summit (BASS), set for May 5 and 6 in Austin, TX. This year’s conference, organized by Flight Safety Foundation in partnership with NBAA, will feature a presentation by Mollicone on fatigue risk management tools and proactive approaches to reducing fatigue risk.