Concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting pressure on some operators and crew to neglect or suspend some aspects of aviation safety - such as the standards for crew fatigue management, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) HUPER Fatigue Management Working Group has provided some initial recommendations for operators and crews to consider.

“In particular, repatriation flights can be longer than usual and may involve limited or no opportunities for rest at destination ports. For cargo operations, pilots continuously face such restrictions,” stated an IFALPA position paper.

Among their recommendations:

  • The crew should communicate with each other to ensure the most alert crew members perform take-offs and landings.
  • Inflight rest should aim to maximize onboard sleep during the circadian night with priority for in-flight rest being afforded to the landing crew.
  • All crew are encouraged to write fatigue reports on planned and/or executed flights whenever fatigue issues are considered relevant.
  • Avoid rostering maximum permissible FDP with minimum rest followed by maximum duty, especially if these duty periods overlap the WOCL (window of circadian low).
  • Where possible, the use of crew who have minimal commute times from home/place of rest to place of reporting for duty should be the preferred rostering option.
  • If the route is not familiar for the crew (e.g. outside normal company operations), operators should assign crew members with a high level of operational experience and provide adequate pre-familiarisation material and briefings to the operating crew.
  • Operate with augmented crews, especially if the flights are to start before their WOCL and are completed after the WOCL. Double crewing (2 captains and 2 first officers) also provides some additional mitigating measures if a crew member were to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during a flight.

IFALPA concluded: “The new risks introduced in operations affected by COVID-19 restrictions should be considered together with all the underpinning operational risks. Outcomes from these risk assessments should be in addition to, not instead of, an adherence to established safety standards.”

To read the complete position paper, click here (PDF file)