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Free Content Preparing Safety Cases for Operating Outside Prescriptive Fatigue Risk Management Regulations

INTRODUCTION: Transport operators seeking to operate outside prescriptive fatigue management regulations are typically required to present a safety case justifying how they will manage the associated risk. This paper details a method for constructing a successful safety case.

METHODS: The method includes four elements: 1) scope (prescriptive rules and operations affected); 2) risk assessment; 3) risk mitigation strategies; and 4) monitoring ongoing risk. A successful safety case illustrates this method. It enables landing pilots in 3-pilot crews to choose the second or third in-flight rest break, rather than the regulatory requirement to take the third break. Scope was defined using a month of scheduled flights that would be covered (N = 4151). These were analyzed in the risk assessment using existing literature on factors affecting fatigue to estimate the maximum time awake at top of descent and sleep opportunities in each break. Additionally, limited data collected before the new regulations showed that pilots flying at landing chose the third break on only 6% of flights.

RESULTS: A prospective survey comparing subjective reports (N = 280) of sleep in the second vs. third break and fatigue and sleepiness ratings at top of descent confirmed that the third break is not consistently superior. The safety case also summarized established systems for fatigue monitoring, risk assessment and hazard identification, and multiple fatigue mitigation strategies that are in place.

DISCUSSION: Other successful safety cases have used this method. The evidence required depends on the expected level of risk and should evolve as experience with fatigue risk management systems builds.

Gander P, Mangie J, Wu L, van den Berg M, Signal L, Phillips A. Preparing safety cases for operating outside prescriptive fatigue risk management regulations. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2017; 88(7):688–696.

Keywords: equivalent level of safety; fatigue risk management systems; in-flight sleep in 3-pilot airline crews

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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