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Appendix D Qualitative Analysis of Selected Public Comments to Proposed FAA Rules The Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administra- tion (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), “Flight Crew Member Duty and Rest,” on September 14, 2010. The FAA’s proposed rules were developed in response to requests made by President Obama and Congress to issue final regulations by August 1, 2011. The NPRM specifies “limitations on the hours of flight and duty time allowed for pilots to ad- dress problems relating to pilot fatigue” (Federal Register, September 14, 2010), aspects of which relate to the commuting practices of pilots. The FAA invited the public to submit questions and comments about “any matters they consider relevant” and indicated that “we may incorpo- rate any such recommendation in a Final Rule” (Federal Register, Septem- ber 14, 2010). The NPRM suggested that individuals provide comments and suggestions on specified topics: • s ame or better protection against the problems of fatigue at a lower cost; • f actors to consider in calculating the maximum of flight duty periods (FDPs); • w hen to permit flight crew members or carriers to operate beyond a scheduled FDP; • r eliability of proposed reporting requirements; • p arameters of proposed reporting requirements; • i ntervals between reporting requirements; and • l ength of time for air carriers to report a problematic crew pairing. 147
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148 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE Some of the public comments and suggestions addressed the issue of com- muting and possible consequences of the proposed duty and rest rules on commuter pilots. It is those comments that we considered in our qualitative investigation. ANALYTIC METHOD Qualitative methods are used to investigate the why and how of deci- sion making, rather than the what, where, when. For the purposes of this investigation, the public comments expressed the viewpoints of a group of volunteer respondents, both individuals and representatives of a variety of organizations, who submitted their thoughts and ideas about the NPRM to the FAA. The qualitative data set was comprised of a purposeful sample of the public comments selected as relevant to the following topic areas: • d efinitions of commuting; • p revalence of commuting; • p erceptions of commuting as being problematic (e.g., when the unplanned occurs, such as weather disturbances or mechanical difficulties that delay flights); • c haracteristics and examples of responsible commuting; • p erceptions of commuting as less of a choice and more related to external factors (e.g., frequent domicile changes, low salaries, and other industry-related factors); and • s uggestions and rationale for modifying the NPRM. Sample The FAA electronic database containing 2419 submitted comments was searched. Comments were sorted using three key words: “commut”; “commute”; and “commuting” (N = 176). A total of 85 comments were selected for inclusion: see Table D-1. In many cases, an individual com- ment contained multiple opinions of relevance (e.g., on both the definition of commuting and he prevalence of commuting practices, as well as some suggestions for the NPRM). As a result, over 400 statements relevant to the study were considered. Data Analysis The analysis of qualitative data is an iterative process of examining and reexamining the narrative data set throughout all phases of analytic inquiry (Wolcott, 1994; Morse and Richards 2002; Ulin et al., 2004; Crosby et al.,
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149 APPENDIX D TABLE D-1 Number of Comments Reviewed and Selected for Inclusion in Analysis, by Key Words Number of Number of Comments Comments Key Words Used Reviewed Selected } “commut” 53 27 “commute” “commuting” 123 58 Total 176 85 2006; Fetterman, 2010). The continuous process of visiting and revisiting the narrative data, with an eye toward identifying similarities and differ- ences in meaning and content, results in an interpretive description of the range of meanings associated with each of the topics under investigation. Several procedures were systematically followed to analyze the data set and are presented below as Phases 1-4. Phase 1 After an analyst completed four readings of the data set, each response was tagged by a one-sentence description. Especially vivid and “to-the-point” responses were highlighted for later consideration as illus- trative quotes. The responses were then sorted by relevance to each of the topic areas under investigation (see above). Below is an example of a one- sentence description (in italics) and of a quote for consideration. As long as a pilot is fit for duty, the air carrier should not have the right to know whether or not a pilot commuted by air. “I also disagree with the FAA’s views that discourage commuting. Pilots should have a right to live where they want to, and can af- ford it, rather than trying to exist in an expensive city, with poor family life situations. Pilots should not be open to discipline of any type as long as they show up fit for duty. As long as a pilot shows up fit for duty, the airline should not have any right to be concerned with whether a pilot commuted in or not.” Phase 2 Preliminary codes were developed to experiment with sorting the content of the responses in each of the topic areas. “Coding” is the pro- cess of assigning descriptive labels, or codes, to “chunks” of the narrative data set (see Wolcott, 1994; Morse and Richards, 2002; Ulin et al., 2004; Crosby et al., 2006). For example, the following chunks of the narrative data (one-sentence descriptions [in italics] and quotes) have been assigned to the code “most pilots commute responsibly:”
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150 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE It is rare for pilots to commute irresponsibly. “I highly disagree with the FAA’s proposal. The FAA is attempting to control a vast minority of pilots that commute irresponsibly. The majority of pilots that I know, work with and offer jumpseats to, are commuting responsibly. I rarely have a pilot that cuts com- muting down to the wire with no back-ups or rest prior to report time.” The majority of pilots commute responsibly by using hotels or crash pads to rest. “The high majority of pilots that I know, work with and have had in the jumpseat from other carriers demonstrate responsibility with reporting to duty fit. Most commute the evening before a trip the next day, others commute in the morning for an evening sign in and head to a hotel or crash pad to rest.” Let the record speak for itself—thousands of pilots commute every day without incident. “Any language that includes restrictions on where a pilot shall live compared to his base is not going to increase safety one bit. Let these professionals decide what is best for themselves about how to get adequate rest while still commuting. Their record speaks for it- self and thousands of pilots commute every day without incident.” Phase 3 After six rounds of sorting with a variety of codes, final codes were selected to sort the content and meaning of the responses in each topic area. For example, the final code “frequent moving of domicile bases to new locations” was used to sort the following data: During the last decade, industryrelated factors have forced airlines to move the location of their domicile bases on a frequent basis. In response, a majority of pilots no longer live close to their domicile bases and most feel they are forced to commute to keep the loca tion of family residences stable and affordable. Estimates of one half or more pilots commute to work by air. Long commutes are never desirable and the “commuter adaptation” to the industry wide change is viewed by many pilots as being “part of the job” (N = 42). All of these respondents perceived the frequent changes in the location of domicile bases as the major reason for the increased numbers of commuters by air. One of the 42 respondents wrote: “[R]egional carriers open and close bases more frequently due to contracts with legacy carriers and their pilots are less likely to be able to afford re-location.”
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151 APPENDIX D One respondent provided a brief overview of commuting and do micile relocation practices during the 20th century and the early 21st century: “In decades past, commuting was not permitted, and crews lived within driving distance of base. In that era, flight crews were paid about fifty to four hundred percent more in current dollars, allow- ing them to afford high cost of living areas. During this period, it was also less common for air carrier to change bases. When it did occur, it was rare and the economic impact wasn’t as great given the wages afforded to the crews. In the last decade, it has been more common for air carriers to open and close crew bases due to economic conditions and outsourcing agreements. Crews that had moved into bases were now required to commute, with relocation being both financially and emotionally difficult, if not impossible. A large portion of flight crews commute via airlines to their crew base over hundreds of miles, and even over several times zones. Regional carriers are especially prone to opening and closing bases due to contracts with legacy carriers, and their pilots are less likely to be able to afford relocation. The regional carrier I worked for had numerous crew bases on the east coast to the mid-continent. Some of these crew bases had opened and closed several times. Also, Junior First Officers earning $20,000 to $30,000 annually were more prone to being assigned and reassigned to these bases.” Phase 4 The last step of the qualitative analysis was the writing. During the writing process, the interpretive analysis is fine-tuned and streamlined to provide readers with an increasingly crisp presentation of the results. RESULTS This section presents the results of the analysis described above. See Table D-2 for a summary of results by number of respondents. Definitions of Commuting Thirty-nine respondents perceived the topic of commuting to be “an area of extreme ambiguity.” One of the respondents described a definitional ambiguity related to defining lengthy commutes by air or car: Trying to mandate rest “in area” prior to duty is noble but burdensome. With the sprawl of today’s large metroplex population centers many lo- cal pilots have at least a 1-2 hr commute, when including the drive to the airport, parking, movement from parking area to crew sign-in areas, etc.
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152 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE TABLE D-2 Summary of Results by Number of Respondents Topic Number* Definitions of Commuting Commuting is an area of extreme ambiguity, involving short- and long- distance commuters who travel by car and/or airplanes to arrive at their domicile bases. 39 Prevalence of Commuting The majority of pilots commute to work via air. 7 *Between 50-60 percent of pilots commute to work via air. 6 The majority of part 135 pilots often choose to work at cargo carriers because they can avoid commuting long distances to their domicile bases. 4 A minority of pilots commute to work over long distances. 2 Perceptions of Commuting as Problematic The majority of pilots have adapted to the energy demands of commuting and successfully manage their need for rest; their safety record speaks for itself. Commuting is now perceived as “part of the job.” 22 Commuting does not impact pilots’ fatigue level. 2 Characteristics and Examples of Responsible Commuting Commuters who report to duty too fatigued to safely fly are not responsibly commuting. 34 Commuters who can afford to schedule opportunities for resting in a bed, as needed, are responsible commuters. 24 Pilots who commute overnight on “red-eye” flights, and do not have opportunities to rest, most appropriately in a bed, are not properly rested for late afternoon or evening flights. 14 Pilots who are up early in the morning to commute to their domicile bases, and do not have opportunities to rest as needed, are often not fit for flight duty for a late afternoon or evening and are not adequately rested. 11 The majority of pilots commute responsibly. 6 Very few pilots commute irresponsibly and those that do are employed by small regional carriers. 6 Perceptions of Commuting as Less of a Choice and More Related to External Factors Frequent changes in the location of domicile bases are perceived as the major reason for the increased numbers of pilots commuting by air. 42 One of the consequences of dramatically lower pilot salaries over the past 25 years is that some low-paid commuters cannot afford the cost of resting in a hotel or shared apartment as needed. 24 Pilots who reflect on their years of experience residing close to their domicile bases and commuting short and/or long distances contend that postcommute rest in a bed, in a quiet, dark, and secluded area is necessary to combat the fatiguing effects of commuting, and as stated above, some low-paid commuters cannot afford to rest appropriately. 14
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153 APPENDIX D TABLE D-2 Continued Topic Number* The FAA should develop regulations mandating that air carriers subsidize the cost of rest accommodations to lower-paid pilots who want to rest following their commutes. 6 As a result of the above, if the proposed rules are authorized, pilots without difficult commutes will regularly fly with pilots who have been awake for 24 hours. 2 Regional carriers open and close bases more frequently due to contracts with legacy carriers and their pilots are less likely to be able to afford relocation. 1 Suggestions to the FAA by Respondents 1. The FAA should continue to mandate that pilots are held accountable for reporting to work fit for duty and not give airlines the authority to measure pilots’ fitness for duty, e.g., fatigue level, or to ask employees to report on the preflight activities of peers. 52 2. In addition to the proposed mandate for airlines to develop fatigue management plans and strategies, the FAA should also require airlines 27 to implement no-fault fatigue policies. 3. Postpone regulations related to commuting until evidence-based, fatigue-mitigating practices are identified. Not enough is known about the current number of pilots commuting by air, their commute flight patterns (distances covered and the time it takes), and their rest patterns prior to reporting for duty. There is also little research evidence about the relationships between commuting practices and job performances. 15 4. The FAA should mandate that airline companies provide positive space to pilots commuting by air, if requested, because ‘space-available’ travel can be highly stressful. 11 5. To best ensure public safety, the FAA should mandate that air carriers are responsible for calculating the start of flight duty periods differently for pilots who commute by air. 8 *The total number of respondents was 85. In many cases, individually submitted comments contained multiple opinions of relevance. As a result, over 400 statements relevant to the study were considered. For instance, I’m relatively “close” to the airport in DFW, but usually give myself 1 hr for the drive in and bus ride from the employee lot. Those in slightly more distant suburbs or exurbs might be unrealistically burdened by a 1.5 hr commuting limit. Prevalence of Commuting Perceptions about the prevalence of commuting were discussed primar- ily in the context of respondents’ opinions about the proposed on-base rest
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154 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE requirement for commuters. There were 16 respondents on this topic: 6 said that between 50-60 percent of pilots commute by air to work; 7 said that “a majority” commute by air; 1 wrote that the vast majority of pilots com- mute by air; and 2 said that a “minority of pilots commute to work over long distances.” One of the respondents in the last group made a distinction between short- and long-distance commuters, estimating that “many pilots commute 1½ to 3 hrs via airplane, while only a small percentage of pilots commute long distances to their home domicile.” A pilot with more than 30 years of industry experience provided a historical perspective on the recent increase in the number of crew members who commute by air to their domiciles: In the last decade, it has been more common for air carriers to open and close crew bases due to economic conditions and outsourcing agreements. Crews that had moved into bases were now required to commute, with relocation being both financially and emotionally difficult, if not impos- sible. A large portion of flight crews commute via airlines to their crew base over hundreds of miles, and even over several times zones. One respondent, representing the views of an organization, provided an overview of issues related to commuting in the context of the airline industry: Commuting is common in the airline industry, in part because of life-style choices available to pilots by virtue of their being able to fly at no cost to their duty station, but also because of economic reasons associated with protecting seniority on particular aircraft, frequent changes in the flight crew member’s home base, and low pay and regular furloughs by some carriers that may require a pilot to live someplace with a relatively low cost of living. Three respondents agreed with an experienced cargo pilot who shared his rationale for having chosen to work for a long time for a cargo com- pany: “[T]he overwhelming majority of part 135 pilots live in close prox- imity to their assigned bases or points of departure. Most commonly, this is specifically why pilots choose to fly part 135, as it allows them to spend their off duty hours at their own residences.” Respondents made several distinctions in the types of commuting: long-distance commuting by air; shorter distance commuting by air (1.5-3 hours); and varying number of hours/car commute (2-4 hours), which are not covered by the proposed regulation.
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155 APPENDIX D Perceptions of Commuting as Problematic Twenty-two respondents did not perceive commuting to be problematic and did not see the need for additional regulations about mandated oppor- tunities for rest. Their responses included statements that commuters had “adapted to the fatigue challenges of commuting,” that “commuting is part of the job,” and that “commuting is a way of life and many of us have no other way to get to work. We can continue to manage our rest as we have learned to do for decades.” Eighteen of the respondents argued that, as one respondent wrote, “the safety record of commuters speaks for itself.” Two respondents did not consider same-day commuting to be a prob- lem, with one contending that this type of commuting “does not impact crew members’ fatigue levels.” However, another respondent wrote that “a crew member who is up all day before an evening departure is not properly rested.” One representative of an airline carrier wrote that commuting is a “significant issue in fatigue and its mitigation” and also that “as carriers de- velop training programs for FRMP and for this regulation, commuting must be addressed. This will place significant pressure on labor-management relations. However, we see no regulatory solution at this time.” Characteristics and Examples of Responsible Commuting Six respondents agreed that the majority of pilots commute responsibly. Twenty-four respondents agreed that those who commute long distances and can afford to pay hotels or portions of the rent for apartments (“crash pads”) and do rest are responsible commuters. Thirty-four respondents wrote comments that agreed with one, that “commuters who report to duty too fatigued to safely fly are not respon- sible commuters.” Fourteen respondents wrote comments that agreed with one, who said that pilots who commute overnight on “red eye” flights and do not have opportunities to rest are “not properly rested for late afternoon or evening flights.” Eleven respondents wrote that pilots who are up early in the morning to commute to their domicile bases without opportunities to rest are often not fit for duty for flights later in the day. Six respondents commented in the vein of one who wrote that, “very few pilots commute irresponsibly, and those that do, are employed by small regional carriers.” One respondent suggested that the desire to maximize the number of days off can lead some commuters to report to duty not fully fit, noting that: there are a very small percentage of pilots (mostly employed at small re- gional carriers) who choose to commute at irresponsible times, largely due to income restraints (unable to afford to pay for lodging) and not wanting to have fewer days off within the month (lowering personal quality of life).
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156 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE Commuting Related to External Factors Many respondents to the NPRM said that commuting decisions are related less to pilots’ choices than to two external factors: frequent mov- ing of domicile bases to new locations and a significant decrease in salary levels, for both veteran and new pilots, in recent decades. The rest of this section presents our summary of the issues, in italics, and quotes on the subject from respondents. Frequent Moving of Domicile Bases to New Locations During the last decade, industryrelated factors have forced airlines to move the location of their domicile bases on a frequent basis. In response, a majority of pilots no longer live close to their domicile bases and most feel they are forced to commute longer distances to keep the location of family residences stable and affordable. Estimates of onehalf or more pi lots commute to work by air. Long commutes are never desirable and the “commuter adaptation” to the industrywide change is viewed by many pilots as being “part of the job.” (N = 42) All of the respondents on this issue perceived the frequent changes in the location of domicile bases as the major reason for the increased numbers of long-distance commuters. One of the respondents stated that “regional carriers open and close bases more frequently due to contracts with legacy carriers and their pilots are less likely to be able to afford re-location.” One respondent provided a brief overview of commuting and domicile relocation practices during the 20th century and the early 21st century: In decades past, commuting was not permitted, and crews lived within driving distance of base. In that era, flight crews were paid about fifty to four hundred percent more in current dollars, allowing them to afford high cost of living areas. During this period, it was also less common for air carrier to change bases. When it did occur, it was rare and the economic impact wasn’t as great given the wages afforded to the crews. In the last decade, it has been more common for air carriers to open and close crew bases due to economic conditions and outsourcing agreements. Crews that had moved into bases were now required to commute, with re- location being both financially and emotionally difficult, if not impossible. A large portion of flight crews commute via airlines to their crew base over hundreds of miles, and even over several times zones. Regional carriers are especially prone to opening and closing bases due to contracts with legacy carriers, and their pilots are less likely to be able to afford relocation. The regional carrier I worked for had numerous crew bases on the east coast to the mid-continent. Some of these crew bases had opened and closed
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157 APPENDIX D several times. Also, Junior First Officers earning $20,000 to $30,000 an- nually were more prone to being assigned and reassigned to these bases. Deceases in Salary Levels Pilot salaries have significantly decreased over the past decades. As a result, some lowpaid pilots are not able to afford the cost of resting in a hotel or a shared apartment (“crash pad”) prior to starting work on a sameday flight. (N = 24) Fourteen respondents agreed that proper rest for pilots meant sleeping or resting in a bed in a quiet location. One respondent—with “over 30 years of continuous experience as a line pilot . . . the first 15 of those years spent residing in domicile and the more recent 15 years living on the West Coast and commuting” to several domicile locations on the East Coast and the Midwest—represented the viewpoints of the respondents on this issue: [E]xperience has shown me that the most important antidote to combat- ing fatigue is the opportunity for sleep when needed. It does not take an expensive study to tell us what is already intuitively known—that adequate rest requires an adequate bed—in a quiet, dark, and secluded area that is isolated in such a manner as to not be subject to disturbance. One respondent argued that there would be an important consequence of instituting the proposed NPRM due to the low pay of some pilots who cannot afford to pay for a place to rest: “[I]f the new rules go through as written, those of us who don’t have a more difficult commute will be fly- ing with pilots who will regularly be up for 24 hours.” A solution to the problem was proposed by six respondents who suggested that the FAA should require airlines to subsidize accommodations at low or no cost to the individual commuters. As stated by one of the six: “[T]here just needs to be a provision for commuter pilots to have adequate accommodations to rest. I suggest that air carriers pay for hotels for the low paid pilots who are forced to commute.” One respondent contended: “[I]f the air carrier was responsible for the rest of commuters by providing them with lodging for a period prior to the start of duty, the rule [to rest] would be easily enforceable.” Nine respondents referred to their perceptions of the role of low-paid, fatigued pilots in the Colgan crash. One of them said that, “the event that caused this [proposed] rule change was the Colgan accident . . . its cause was inexperienced pilots and a crew that could not afford to sleep in a bed. Their commute to work was not the problem, low pay was.”
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158 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE Suggestions to the FAA Pilots’ Responsibility to Report Fit for Duty To date, the FAA and airline companies have held pilots responsible for assessing their own fitness for duty status. If unfit for any reason, regula tions require a pilot to step aside and report for duty as a sick person, temporarily unfit for duty. The FAA should continue to mandate that pilots are held accountable for reporting to work fit for duty and not give airlines the authority to measure pilots’ fitness for duty, e.g., fatigue level, or to ask employees to report on the preflight activities of peers. (N = 52) The strong support for this idea appears to be related to three major factors: (1) pilots’ professional pride in being responsible for assessing their own level of fitness for duty (N = 45); (2) the view that individuals alone are responsible for their life circumstances and have the right to privacy in all possible matters (N = 30); (3) the contrary view (to 2) that airlines are responsible for ensuring safe working conditions of their employees (N = 11). One of the respondents noted that, “pilots are the experts in how fit for duty they are or are not—regulations that dictate where a pilot must live or be before duty would be erroneous at best, would not enhance safety, and would place an unreasonable burden on pilots.” Another respondent described how reporting fit for duty is a source of professional pride and adult status for pilots and then made the case that regulations to involve airlines in this assessment are an “onerous intrusion into lives of pilots.” This respondent wrote: Pilots are scrutinized more than probably any other profession, includ- ing and especially doctors. We are trusted with the lives of hundreds of people at a time, yet I fear the FAA is about to enact a set of regulations that would treat us like children by not allowing us the responsibility of determining for our own self whether or not we are fit for duty. Any such regulations would be a one-size-fits-all, onerous intrusion into the lives of pilots that would do nothing to increase fitness for duty. We are already held accountable for our actions while on duty; I think we can handle the responsibility of knowing how to show up in a condition of fitness for that duty. Another respondent wrote: The new regulation, as written, may put pilots in a position of changing their life in a way that will NOT enhance safety, and may actually decrease it. Commuting to work in a coach seat where rest is possible, is no more dangerous than a pilot that works in his yard for 5 hours before he reports for duty. Yet, the first pilot is under scrutiny because he commuted and the second pilot is not under scrutiny. Pilots are the experts in how fit for
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159 APPENDIX D duty they are or are not. Please ensure that all liability for pilots ensuring fitness for duty is removed from this NPRM. Further, please remove all regulation that might dictate where a pilot must live or be before duty. These regulations would be erroneous at best, would not enhance safety, and would place an unreasonable burden on pilots. Another respondent expressed a special concern for rights to privacy, stating that, “as long as a pilot shows up fit for duty, the airline should not have any right to be concerned with whether a pilot commuted in or not.” Yet a somewhat different comment came from a respondent who wrote that “it is best to ensure crewmembers are not exposed to fatiguing conditions rather than assess them after fatigue occurs.” One respondent discussed the separate domains of responsibility be- tween labor and management: The concept of the air carrier’s ability to manage an individual employee’s fitness to fly is erroneous. Airlines have direct control over the time of day of the operations, the number of takeoffs and landings scheduled, and con- trolling the effects of crossing multiple time zones. The flight crew member is the only one who can control the effects of commuting. Forty-nine individual respondents and five respondents who repre- sented the views of their organizations emphasized the importance of not tracking pilots’ arrival and departure times at their domiciles because it is an unwarranted invasion of privacy. As one organizational respondent wrote: We support the concept that a flight crewmember must be fit for duty prior to operating an aircraft. The fitness for duty is and must be a joint responsibility of the certificate holder and the flight crew member. While it is important that both the flight crew member and the certificate holder be involved in fit for duty determinations, we cannot create an environ- ment that requires tracking and reporting the activities of an individual flight crew member prior to their reporting for flight duty. Such tracking would be difficult and costly for the certificate holder and constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the flight crew member. Two of the individual respondents pointed out that tracking is not the only option for ensuring responsible commuting; one wrote: While it is important for all stakeholders to be involved in the fitness-for- duty equation, we simply cannot operate in an environment that places a priority on the tracking and reporting of commuting over educating and encouraging responsible, jointly managed commuting policies.
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160 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE Another respondent further questioned the FAA on the issue of individual rights and responsibilities: [T]o start with, whatever happened to personnel responsibility? Existing rules and regulations require a crew member to show up fully rested and ready for work. That is a crew member responsibility, not a company responsibility. Commuting needs to be a crew members’ responsibility. Six respondents discussed the role of personal choice and responsibility in commuting and other off-the-clock behaviors. One wrote: [C]ommuting should not be touched. Pilots are required to show up for work rested and fit to fly. That is the law. If they choose to commute all night or stay up and watch television all night at home before work, then they should call in sick. That is already the mandate. Making more rules does not help anything. Fatigue Policies In addition to the proposed mandate for airlines to develop fatigue man agement plans and strategies, the FAA should also require airlines to implement nofault fatigue policies. (N = 27) Several respondents expressed the view that many pilots fear negative consequences if they report unfit to fly, due to fatigue, on the day of flight. One respondent described the advantages of instituting a “no-questions- asked” fatigue policy: Getting hired at Southwest Airlines (SWA) represents reaching my goal destination. One of the most amazing and effective policies for combating fatigue that the pilots at SWA have is a no-questions-asked fatigue policy. What this means is that if a pilot calls in fatigued, s/he is done. Scheduling will pull the pilot from the trip and the pilot’s job is not in jeopardy!!! The pilot is not going to be disciplined or penalized for calling in fatigued. Pilots have a great deal of responsibility, and what an outstanding policy like this does is to allow the pilot to focus on the most important prior- ity, that of public safety, while recognizing and accommodating to his/her personal limitations. In my five years at SWA, I have not once called in fatigued. I have called in sick a few times, and I have only praise for the courteous, professional treatment I have received in those circumstances. No pressure to get back to work until ready to do so. Based on those ex- periences, I have full confidence that the no-questions-asked fatigue policy
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161 APPENDIX D works as promoted. A pilot who thinks his/her job is in jeopardy is not going to call in fatigued! Another respondent expressed disappointment that the proposed NPRM did not address a basic need of pilots: I am disappointed with the FAA’s view on pilot commuting. I’ve read that 60% of pilots commute by air to work. If the FAA believes that fatigue mitigation is a joint responsibility between crewmembers and the airline, then the airlines need to be required to have some type of a non-punitive fatigue policy. A third respondent advocated for crew members’ right to “cry Uncle” when fatigued: The creation of a no-fault fatigue program where a crewmember may, without fear of discipline or any financial considerations, declare himself unfit to fly (due to fatigue) and be provided a rest period accordingly, would mitigate day-of-flight fatigue issues. Consider the long day with bad weather, deicing, holding, diverting, etc. Giving crew the opportunity to cry, “Uncle” would be invaluable. It is a crewmember’s responsibility to arrive rested and ready prior to flight and properly modifying the Rest and Duty Time regulations will give them more tools to proactively manage their fatigue. However, if a crew becomes fatigued they should not feel pressured to complete a flight segment nor penalized for any reason. It is a crewmember’s responsibility to arrive rested and ready prior to flight and properly modifying the Rest and Duty Time regulations will give them more tools to proactively man- age their fatigue. Inadequate Data on Commuting Postpone regulations related to commuting until evidencebased fatigue mitigating practices are identified. Not enough is known about the cur rent number of pilots commuting by air, their commute flight patterns (distances covered and the time it takes), and their rest patterns prior to reporting for duty. There is also little research evidence about the relation ships between commuting practices and job performances. (N = 15) The lack of information about commuting practices and their relation- ships with job performance was the reason behind the advise to delay any regulations. Two of the 15 respondents identified another topic missing from the knowledge base, which one characterized as “the lack of reliable estimates of how fatigued pilot commuters become as their flight duty
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162 THE EFFECTS OF COMMUTING ON PILOT FATIGUE periods progress, especially for long distance commuters.” Five of the 15 respondents, representing the views of organizations, commented on lack of supporting data in the Advisory Circular, AC 120-FIT; one wrote: The practice of personal commuting must remain each flight crew mem- ber’s responsibility to be fit for duty for every flight duty period to which they are assigned. The FAA’s accompanying Advisory Circular, AC 120- FIT, should clearly be withdrawn. It is premature, wholly lacks any sci- entific study or supporting data, and raises the same issues with regard to incorrectly involving certificate holders in the commuting practices of their flight crew members. One of the 15 respondents provided an explanation as to why indi- vidual variation in experiencing fatigue is a key factor in understanding predictors of fatigue among pilots: “[F]atigue is definitely a threat in our environment, but it is so individual and so unique. I have had 20 hour layovers with a good 8 hour sleep and find myself fatigued sometimes.” Given the knowledge gaps, another respondent discussed an alternative to regulatory mandates. “[A]n advisory approach may be more effective than a regulatory approach at this time.” Required Space for Commuting The FAA should mandate that airline companies provide positive space to pilots commuting by air, if requested, because ‘space available’ travel can be highly stressful. (N = 11) One of the 11 respondents noted that “a number of cargo airlines already provide positive space for all pilots to whatever domicile that the airline requires them to be based at.” Three respondents said that the FAA should provide pilots with positive space; as one wrote, “so they can plan their commutes with more accuracy thus giving them the chance to get the required rest before their flight.” Another respondent elaborated this point of view, concluding: For pilots who choose to commute, give them the option to add deadhead legs both before and after their scheduled trips. These deadhead trips would get the pilots from their homes to their domicile bases with much less stress and without the uncertainty of space available travel. This in- crease in quality of life would take away much of the risk in irresponsible commuting. The decreased stress would also decrease one of the factors leading to fatigue.
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163 APPENDIX D Duty Period Calculations To best ensure public safety, the FAA should mandate that air carriers are responsible for calculating the start of flight duty periods differently for pilots who commute by air. (N = 8) Two respondents expressed the need for FAA action; one wrote that “airline management will not voluntarily safely schedule crews unless they are under threat from the FAA.” Two pilots commented on the fact that some pilots commute over one or two time zones to their domiciles. One of them wrote that the public “should be protected from pilots commuting to work from distant locations” and that it was “unacceptable to have a pilot reside in Florida and report for duty in Los Angeles after a long com- muting flight.” All eight respondents said that public safety would increase if the flight schedules factored in pilots’ time zone acclimation. One of them reported that “the legacy carrier I worked for took the issue of fatigue very seri- ously—schedules and assignments were made with consideration of circa- dian rhythms, time zone changes, and prior schedules.” Five respondents argued in favor of commuter-specific rules about the start of duty periods. One wrote that rules “should be implemented when commuting exceeds a defined number of miles and/or hours spent commut- ing.” One suggested that “the only clear solution is a regulation requiring pilots to commute ‘on-duty’ in terms of calculating rest prior to flight.” Also in this vein, one of them thought that the duty period “should begin one hour prior to their intended commuting flight and should not go over 12 hours, including commuting and working segments, and up to 14 hours with crew consent.” Another of the five respondents concluded that “it is then only fair, in order to protect the public, to enforce the regulation by subjecting a commuter pilot to random checks.”
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