India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced support for periods of controlled cockpit rest for pilots. In an August 15 operations circular, the DGCA calls the naps, which are to be allowed on flights of at least three hours, “effective fatigue mitigation tools.”
Humans, by our very nature, are daytime creatures. Our brains and our bodies have been hardwired for this, and not even the fairly recent (in evolutionary terms) innovation of artificial light can change hundreds of thousands of years of development. In response to darkness, our brains produce a chemical known as melatonin, which makes us sleepy, yet these days we are far removed from the agrarian “get up when it’s light out, go to bed when it’s dark” lifestyle of just a few centuries ago.
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise an existing airworthiness directive for the AgustaWestland AW139 requiring inspection of the fuselage frame to detect fatigue cracks that could lead to structural failure and subsequent loss of control. Since the AD was issued, AgustaWestland developed a frame reinforcement modification that supports extending the interval for inspecting the fuselage frame for a fatigue crack.
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) announced a two-year collaborative research agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on June 19 to carry out widespread fatigue damage assessment for the JAXA curved fuselage panel tests. The partnership is considered a cost-effective way to study widespread fatigue issues on an aircraft’s main pressure vessel. The tests are ultimately designed to improve air safety by creating evaluation technology capable of maintaining the structural integrity of new and aging civilian aircraft.
Building on its long track record of supporting companies in technology research and development, NRC Aerospace has refocused its efforts on new areas such as the human factors involved in working and traveling on aircraft. It has started work on building a cabin and flight deck simulator to be available from 2014 to help in the development of aircraft interiors.
Despite improved crew rest stations on airline and business aviation aircraft today, concerns about pilot fatigue will never disappear entirely. In association with NBAA, California-based fatigue specialists Alertness Solutions has developed for flight departments a downloadable guide called The Alert Crew. It outlines the top issues time-zone-jumping crewmembers should regularly consider to remain at peak performance.
The 58th Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) safety seminar for business aviation was held in Montreal last month under a new name. What has long been known as CASS (corporate aviation safety seminar) is now called BASS (business aviation safety seminar), “to align us better with the business aviation community, which comprises 60 percent of the foundation’s membership,” according to FSF CEO Kevin Hiatt.
An RAA-sponsored study into the fatigue effects of multi-segment flight operations has reached the end of its third and final stage, involving the development of so-called fatigue risk management systems (FRMS).
Bombardier’s popular Safety Standdown program will return to Asia for its third edition in conjunction with next week’s Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE). The seminar, to be held on April 15 at the Shanghai Marriott Hotel Hongqiao, is free to all participants but advance registration is required at www.safetystanddown.com. Topics to be examined include pilot fatigue and health, safety management system integration, safety culture, and criminalization in aviation. Among this year’s presenters will be U.S.
Eurocopter says it has made significant progress in solving the main gearbox issue that has blighted the EC225 medium twin since last May, reporting that a third test campaign at its headquarters in Marignane, France “is establishing” the cause of crack initiation.
Eurocopter attributes the issue to “a combination of factors” leading to a degradation of the vertical shaft’s fatigue resistance. The helicopter manufacturer has excluded any “abnormal dynamic overload.” Failure of the bevel gear shaft causes a loss of lubrication.