|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||airport : lga|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 0
|Operator||common carrier : air carrier|
|Make Model Name||Large Transport, Low Wing, 3 Turbojet Eng|
|Flight Phase||ground : preflight|
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
pilot : cfi
pilot : flight engineer
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 180|
flight time total : 10000
flight time type : 1700
|Anomaly||non adherence : far|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : detected after the fact|
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
I am writing this report mainly because of my concern with the inadequacy of the far's dealing with crew rest under part 121. I would like to illustrate my point by describing a recent series of flts which I flew. We began the start of a 3 day trip pairing with a flight from den to lga. We were scheduled to arrive in lga at 2200 (local), but due to an en route fuel stop, we arrived at 2251, with a total of 4 hours and 5 mins of flight time. We were scheduled to depart the next morning at 0725 for a flight to iah. We actually departed at 0731, which means 8 hours and 40 mins elapsed from block to block. I didn't add up the exact times until later that day and then I began to wonder if that had been a legal rest period. My first problem was trying to interpret the far's. It appears that this situation falls under far 121.471, which says that if you fly less than 8 hours in the preceding 24 hours, the normal rest period is 9 hours (paragraph B1), but that can be reduced to 8 hours if you get a compensatory rest of 10 hours the next day (paragraph C1). That seems rather straight forward except that the far's don't define exactly what activities are excluded from this rest period. With the exception of far 121.147(F) which says deadheading is not considered rest and local transportation (hotel vans and limos) are included in the rest period. And far 91.5 which requires preflight planning (but it doesn't say if this is a rest or not). I had 3 official publications to work with: 1) the far's, 2) the company operations manual, and 3) the company scheduling policy. As I mentioned previously, the far's don't completely address the question. The company operations manual simply repeats the far's and is of no additional help. The company scheduling policy has a section dealing with the construction of trip pairings which states that the pairings will be constructed with no less than 8 hours and 45 mins block to block. I cannot find it in writing, but I have been told that this equates to 15 mins post flight, 8 hours rest and 30 mins preflight. I talked to people in the chief pilot's office and in scheduling and their answers to my questions were basically the same. The company tries to schedule a minimum rest of 8 hours and 45 mins block to block (and they will delay the departure of a trip to get the 8 hours and 45 mins), but they consider anything over 8 hours, block to block, to be legal. Now to the heart of the problem. In this true example we blocked in at 2251 local, the hotel van picked us up at 2325, and I actually got to sleep at midnight. I had to wake up at 0550 in order to catch the 0630 hotel limo. We arrived at the airplane at 0700 and blocked out at 0731. So the entire crew got less than 6 hours of sleep and departed with a legal rest period (or at least within 5 mins of it, which is academic since we needed to get on the same 0630 hotel van in either case). The FAA thinks this scenario is ok because we get an extended rest period on the next day. But a rest period later on is of no use if we had an emergency on the first leg after our so-called rest. I would like to add a note that the F/a's need rest just as much as the pilots. To the best of my knowledge, they are not covered by any far rest requirements at all! I think the FAA forgets that their primary purpose on board the aircraft is safety. They also need to be rested an alert in case we have something like an emergency evacuate/evacuation on the first leg of the next day. (I have actually seen F/a's fall asleep on the jump seat.) before dereg and the bankruptcy of our airline, we had a work agreement which insured us a reasonable rest period above the ridiculously short one required by the far's. Nowadays the company evidently cannot afford to give us any extra rest, so we push the far's right to the limit. This is a perfect illustration of the point that an author was trying to make in his book about dereg when he said: 'safety is cost accountable.' I thank that even the FAA would admit that the rules were written to give the airlines a certain degree of latitude so they couldoperated economically. We have no business allowing crews with only 5-6 hours of sleep to be flying a commercial aircraft full of passenger. I believe that the far's should allow no less than 10 hours of rest (block to block) at any time. An alternate solution to the problem might be to be much more definitive about the actions not included in a rest period (and local transportation to the hotel should be one of them). This way, airlines won't be able to make their own definition. Realistically, I'm afraid the far's will never change unless a lot of passenger die as a result of the present policy.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: FLT CREW DEPARTED AFTER HAVING RECEIVED 5 MINUTES LESS THAN THE REQUIRED 8 HOURS, 45 MINUTES REST BETWEEN TRIPS.
Narrative: I AM WRITING THIS RPT MAINLY BECAUSE OF MY CONCERN WITH THE INADEQUACY OF THE FAR'S DEALING WITH CREW REST UNDER PART 121. I WOULD LIKE TO ILLUSTRATE MY POINT BY DESCRIBING A RECENT SERIES OF FLTS WHICH I FLEW. WE BEGAN THE START OF A 3 DAY TRIP PAIRING WITH A FLT FROM DEN TO LGA. WE WERE SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE IN LGA AT 2200 (LCL), BUT DUE TO AN ENRTE FUEL STOP, WE ARRIVED AT 2251, WITH A TOTAL OF 4 HRS AND 5 MINS OF FLT TIME. WE WERE SCHEDULED TO DEPART THE NEXT MORNING AT 0725 FOR A FLT TO IAH. WE ACTUALLY DEPARTED AT 0731, WHICH MEANS 8 HRS AND 40 MINS ELAPSED FROM BLOCK TO BLOCK. I DIDN'T ADD UP THE EXACT TIMES UNTIL LATER THAT DAY AND THEN I BEGAN TO WONDER IF THAT HAD BEEN A LEGAL REST PERIOD. MY FIRST PROB WAS TRYING TO INTERPRET THE FAR'S. IT APPEARS THAT THIS SITUATION FALLS UNDER FAR 121.471, WHICH SAYS THAT IF YOU FLY LESS THAN 8 HRS IN THE PRECEDING 24 HRS, THE NORMAL REST PERIOD IS 9 HRS (PARAGRAPH B1), BUT THAT CAN BE REDUCED TO 8 HRS IF YOU GET A COMPENSATORY REST OF 10 HRS THE NEXT DAY (PARAGRAPH C1). THAT SEEMS RATHER STRAIGHT FORWARD EXCEPT THAT THE FAR'S DON'T DEFINE EXACTLY WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE EXCLUDED FROM THIS REST PERIOD. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF FAR 121.147(F) WHICH SAYS DEADHEADING IS NOT CONSIDERED REST AND LCL TRANSPORTATION (HOTEL VANS AND LIMOS) ARE INCLUDED IN THE REST PERIOD. AND FAR 91.5 WHICH REQUIRES PREFLT PLANNING (BUT IT DOESN'T SAY IF THIS IS A REST OR NOT). I HAD 3 OFFICIAL PUBLICATIONS TO WORK WITH: 1) THE FAR'S, 2) THE COMPANY OPS MANUAL, AND 3) THE COMPANY SCHEDULING POLICY. AS I MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY, THE FAR'S DON'T COMPLETELY ADDRESS THE QUESTION. THE COMPANY OPS MANUAL SIMPLY REPEATS THE FAR'S AND IS OF NO ADDITIONAL HELP. THE COMPANY SCHEDULING POLICY HAS A SECTION DEALING WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF TRIP PAIRINGS WHICH STATES THAT THE PAIRINGS WILL BE CONSTRUCTED WITH NO LESS THAN 8 HRS AND 45 MINS BLOCK TO BLOCK. I CANNOT FIND IT IN WRITING, BUT I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THIS EQUATES TO 15 MINS POST FLT, 8 HRS REST AND 30 MINS PREFLT. I TALKED TO PEOPLE IN THE CHIEF PLT'S OFFICE AND IN SCHEDULING AND THEIR ANSWERS TO MY QUESTIONS WERE BASICALLY THE SAME. THE COMPANY TRIES TO SCHEDULE A MINIMUM REST OF 8 HRS AND 45 MINS BLOCK TO BLOCK (AND THEY WILL DELAY THE DEP OF A TRIP TO GET THE 8 HRS AND 45 MINS), BUT THEY CONSIDER ANYTHING OVER 8 HRS, BLOCK TO BLOCK, TO BE LEGAL. NOW TO THE HEART OF THE PROB. IN THIS TRUE EXAMPLE WE BLOCKED IN AT 2251 LCL, THE HOTEL VAN PICKED US UP AT 2325, AND I ACTUALLY GOT TO SLEEP AT MIDNIGHT. I HAD TO WAKE UP AT 0550 IN ORDER TO CATCH THE 0630 HOTEL LIMO. WE ARRIVED AT THE AIRPLANE AT 0700 AND BLOCKED OUT AT 0731. SO THE ENTIRE CREW GOT LESS THAN 6 HRS OF SLEEP AND DEPARTED WITH A LEGAL REST PERIOD (OR AT LEAST WITHIN 5 MINS OF IT, WHICH IS ACADEMIC SINCE WE NEEDED TO GET ON THE SAME 0630 HOTEL VAN IN EITHER CASE). THE FAA THINKS THIS SCENARIO IS OK BECAUSE WE GET AN EXTENDED REST PERIOD ON THE NEXT DAY. BUT A REST PERIOD LATER ON IS OF NO USE IF WE HAD AN EMER ON THE FIRST LEG AFTER OUR SO-CALLED REST. I WOULD LIKE TO ADD A NOTE THAT THE F/A'S NEED REST JUST AS MUCH AS THE PLTS. TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, THEY ARE NOT COVERED BY ANY FAR REST REQUIREMENTS AT ALL! I THINK THE FAA FORGETS THAT THEIR PRIMARY PURPOSE ON BOARD THE ACFT IS SAFETY. THEY ALSO NEED TO BE RESTED AN ALERT IN CASE WE HAVE SOMETHING LIKE AN EMER EVAC ON THE FIRST LEG OF THE NEXT DAY. (I HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN F/A'S FALL ASLEEP ON THE JUMP SEAT.) BEFORE DEREG AND THE BANKRUPTCY OF OUR AIRLINE, WE HAD A WORK AGREEMENT WHICH INSURED US A REASONABLE REST PERIOD ABOVE THE RIDICULOUSLY SHORT ONE REQUIRED BY THE FAR'S. NOWADAYS THE COMPANY EVIDENTLY CANNOT AFFORD TO GIVE US ANY EXTRA REST, SO WE PUSH THE FAR'S RIGHT TO THE LIMIT. THIS IS A PERFECT ILLUSTRATION OF THE POINT THAT AN AUTHOR WAS TRYING TO MAKE IN HIS BOOK ABOUT DEREG WHEN HE SAID: 'SAFETY IS COST ACCOUNTABLE.' I THANK THAT EVEN THE FAA WOULD ADMIT THAT THE RULES WERE WRITTEN TO GIVE THE AIRLINES A CERTAIN DEGREE OF LATITUDE SO THEY COULDOPERATED ECONOMICALLY. WE HAVE NO BUSINESS ALLOWING CREWS WITH ONLY 5-6 HRS OF SLEEP TO BE FLYING A COMMERCIAL ACFT FULL OF PAX. I BELIEVE THAT THE FAR'S SHOULD ALLOW NO LESS THAN 10 HRS OF REST (BLOCK TO BLOCK) AT ANY TIME. AN ALTERNATE SOLUTION TO THE PROB MIGHT BE TO BE MUCH MORE DEFINITIVE ABOUT THE ACTIONS NOT INCLUDED IN A REST PERIOD (AND LCL TRANSPORTATION TO THE HOTEL SHOULD BE ONE OF THEM). THIS WAY, AIRLINES WON'T BE ABLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN DEFINITION. REALISTICALLY, I'M AFRAID THE FAR'S WILL NEVER CHANGE UNLESS A LOT OF PAX DIE AS A RESULT OF THE PRESENT POLICY.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.