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HAC Examining Options for Relief from New Flight & Duty Time Regulations

The new regulations will not be applicable to our industry segment for 3 ½ years, but there are a number of reasons why we should be considering our options, now.  We can’t afford to be without some relief, either through an exemption from some of the rules because they are unsupported by the fatigue-related science, or through the application of an HAC Template Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS).

The new rules are so oppressive that they will mean a fundamental change in the way that we conduct all operations – but particularly in deployed operations.  Your association and its Board have been devoting a considerable amount of time to a consideration of our options on this subject. The next three years present a unique opportunity for us to seek relief through a global exemption, and to investigate the FRMS options. Four years from now, when the new rules are in effect, it will be necessary for an operator or Association to generate a Safety Case for an FRMS exemption to the rules, before they are “validated” in the field.

The validation is required, we are told, because it’s not simply necessary for the science to be sound. The operator must prove that the FRMS does not actually result in more fatigue. This will require some data collection by each operator. If, for example, the Duty Day were to be extended to 14 hours, “Would your flight crew members experience fatigue?” Because the new regulations are not in-force, yet, we could potentially dispense with the requirement for a Safety Case, altogether, and we could simply validate certain elements of the old regulations, that we are currently using. HAC and others believe that there is little scientific support for Cumulative Duty Hours; the removal of the Zeroing Provisions, or for the new requirement for “one day off in seven” – HAC believes that none of these changes are supported by the fatigue-related science. We just need to prove that.