The Honourable Transport Minister Marc Garneau has just presented the government of Canada new plan to combat pilot fatigue. His well intended hope is of course to upgrade Canadian flight safety. The pressure to act was strong since the catalytic KSFO event that triggered the decision. An A-320 on approach lined up with a taxiway packed with carriers waiting for departure. Canada has the disagreeable habit to wait for a serious accident in order to take action in the domain.
One of the contributing factor cited by the TSB for the incident was pilot fatigue. By the way flight crew fatigue is always cited in close to 70% of aircraft accident in North America. Let’s leave aside the prospect of a continued approach to land over other airplanes waiting in line, the of the conditional tense is of no utility to understand the facts. The Minister has come out of torpor to update long awaited obsolete fatigue rules following the incident. Please refer to a recent article on this blog.
This morning we realize that these new rules definitely improved in relation to the 1970’s do not venture past the 1990’s in relation to the industrial world. During yesterday’s declaration, the Minister pleads that his government had based itself on scientific research issued from NASA Ames Research Center. The scientist down there will not be impressed should they learn that their work has only been used partially and to the will of industry lobby. Never mind the black eye inflicted to the TSB (Transportation Safety Board).
How can one justify that cargo operators do not require the same rules, this will never be understood. Those carriers share the same airspace as one filled with confident passengers.
Industry auto regulation: really?
Going further and mentioning that the industry will be able to equip itself with auto-regulation tools demonstrates imprudence. Human nature will never change. The option to apply fatigue risk management strategies relies partly on sleeping in the flight deck, yes, under closely followed procedures and paperwork.
The metaphor may be a bit strong but auto-regulation can be compared to giving hen house management to foxes. Ultimately, the problem will always be the same. The accounting departments will always oppose additional flight safety measures because the expense (« it is not an investment you know ») does not generate a benefit at the end of the fiscal year.
Conceiving that Canadian aviators are merely acting out of industrial action resides in a rather linear thought process. Decidedly our American and European neighbours would disagree especially when one considers the unit cost of crew members per seat or kilogram flown.
Objectively, annoying electoral campaign fund suppliers approaching an electoral campaign is never a good idea as opposed to applying courage in leadership.
We have a long way to go. Attempting to enter the great chamber of serious legislators, Canada just tripped at the door threshold.