Fatigue Risk Management System

A New Approach – using a Bio-mathematical Fatigue Model

Cathay Pacific has a very complex passenger and freighter network with pilots based all over the world living in vastly different time zones. This has created a very challenging task in pilot rostering and fatigue management. Consequently, managing pilot fatigue risk is an important component of Cathay Pacific's SMS. Therefore, during 2011, we continued to develop the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). The FRMS is an evidence-based, data-driven system with reactive, proactive and predictive elements that are used to continuously monitor and control fatigue risk to a level that is 'As Low As Reasonably Practical' (ALARP). The FRMS provides a mechanism by which appropriate measures, supporting procedures and training ensure that flight crew are not subjected to unacceptable levels of work-related fatigue. Employees also have a personal obligation to minimise fatigue so that they are fit for duty, and shall not perform any duty if they consider their fatigue level to be unacceptable. There are currently no HK CAD regulatory requirements for local aircraft operators to have an FRMS. Nevertheless, the one that Cathay Pacific has implemented far exceeds current HK CAD regulations pertaining to the management of pilot fatigue.

With this increasing focus on fatigue issues, Cathay Pacific has deployed a computerised fatigue calculation to assist in the analysis of fatigue risks. The model on which the software is based has been extensively validated by laboratory and research studies, as well as a number of US Government Agencies (including the US Air Force, US Army, Department Of Transportation, and Federal Aviation Administration). We believe that among all the commercially available options, we have one of the more robust and comprehensive fatigue analysis packages available. Integrating this software into our FRMS process is helping us to proactively target any systemic issues with rostering patterns, rather than simply focusing on individual patterns. For example, the software can analyse the entire monthly crew roster in a batch and then identify problematic patterns with reference to pre-defined indicators.

Fatigue Survey Update

At the end of 2010, we conducted a pilot fatigue survey over a two-month period asking all pilots on all sectors to rate their level of alertness immediately prior to commencing a flight and just before commencing descent at the end of a flight. The survey attracted an 83% response rate. This information was analysed by an external fatigue expert who identified that approximately 5% of our flights needed some attention. Consequently, the FRMS Committee, in conjunction with Integrated Crew Management (ICM), , examined these flights carefully with a view to mitigating the risk of fatigue to the ALARP level. ICM subsequently introduced a number of changes to address the identified concerns. We will continue to further develop and progress our FRMS. Current data indicates that Cathay Pacific's risk of an adverse event associated with flight crew fatigue is very low.

A comment from Captain Darryl Soligo, Aircrew Officers Association Technical and Safety Committee, FRMS Committee Pilot Representative, and Training Captain at Cathay Pacific:

"In the world of 24/7 flight operations, it is practically impossible to eliminate the fatigue risk on flight crew entirely, therefore greater emphasis must be placed on determining what is an acceptable or unacceptable fatigue risk, and devising strategies to reduce that risk even further where possible.

Traditionally, airlines have relied upon prescriptive Flight Time Limitations (FTLs) to mitigate the fatigue risk with their flight crew. While the FTLs, to some extent, are based on sound circadian principles, their 'one size fits all' approach has significant limitations. FRMS, on the other hand, takes a more holistic approach to fatigue management, looking beyond what is simply legal or not legal, but rather at what makes sense physiologically.

Cathay Pacific has demonstrated itself as an industry leader by early adoption of FRMS as an integral part of their Safety Management System. FRMS is another example of our commitment to making Cathay Pacific one of the world's safest airlines."

An FRMS was also launched at Dragonair in November 2011. Further progress updates and will be provided in the next report.

Font Size
  • Sustainable Development Report 2010
    [website | pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2009
    [website | pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2008 [pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2007 [pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2006 [pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2005 [pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2004 [pdf]
  • Sustainable Development Report 2003 [pdf]