The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–The federal government is enacting strict new measures to address mounting concerns about tired flight crews on commercial planes–big and small.
New regulations will set lower limits for the number of hours pilots can be in the air and on the job before having to take a break, taking into account the times of day they fly and how often they take off and land.
Rules also will set out how many hours a pilot can be on the job in one month, in three months, and in a year.
And new rules are being set for how many nights in a row a pilot can fly.
A daily maximum also is being set between nine and 13 hours, depending on what time of day a pilot starts work.
As well, higher minimums are being set for rest periods that will vary depending on whether a pilot is at home or away.
The new regulations come almost a decade after Transport Canada first looked at the issue.
“We rely on professional flight crews who have the training and experience to make sure that we travel safely,” said Transport minister Marc Garneau.
“To do that, they need to be well-rested and fit for duty.
“I’m confident that the new regulations will reduce pilot fatigue and make air travel safer,” he added.
Canada’s regulations on rest and duty time were excoriated in an American report this fall that pinned part of the blame on pilot fatigue in a July, 2017 incident involving an Air Canada jet.
The Airbus A320 nearly landed on a taxiway at San Francisco’s airport where other planes loaded with passengers awaited their turns to take off.
The Transportation Safety Board repeatedly has raised concerns about operator fatigue.
The board said in its most recent annual safety report that since the early 1990s, it has identified 34 aviation incidents where fatigue was an issue.
It’s also a problem in rail and marine operations, the board noted.
“Effective fatigue management and the reduction of associated risks require profound changes in attitudes and behaviours, both at the management and operational levels,” the board said in its 2018 report.
The board recommended the government require airlines to create “fatigue risk-management systems” designed for their specific operations.
Garneau said yesterday the government will do just that, particularly for smaller airlines like those serving the north.
“We have accommodated to try to recognize the reality that exists in some of our smaller regional and northern airlines,” Garneau said.
“We have tried to be sensitive to this without compromising on safety.”
Speciality services like medical and firefighting aircraft will be exempt from the time limits.