The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Boeing 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series. The AD was prompted by a report of cracks found in the skin at body station 540 just below stringer S-22L on a 737-700.
Pilot unions have condemned as unsafe new flight and duty time rules approved by the European Parliament on October 9. The decision overturned an earlier 21 to 13 vote against the new rules by the Parliament’s own transport committee on September 30.
The European Parliament’s transport committee today blocked the European Commission’s proposals on flight and duty time limitations for commercial pilots flying within the European Union.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) will offer a webinar on fatigue this Wednesday, September 25, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. Called “Understand How Fatigue Can Affect Your Department’s Performance and Safety,” the session will provide background on the science behind fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) and fatigue modeling, as well as offer a streamlined version of FRMS that fits the business aviation market. The webinar is free to NBAA members.
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.