Fatigue reports are “an important tool for aviation authorities in overseeing operators' fatigue risk management or safety in general,” according to a new guidance document published by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA). “Without fatigue reports it is difficult for authorities to evaluate if flight operations pose unacceptable risks due to fatigue.”

The six-page guidance document advised that “Flight Crew Members must not begin to carry out any task for a flight if, due to fatigue, they are or are likely to be unfit to perform a task required of them during the flight.”

The document itemizes more than a dozen specific circumstances when flight crew should report fatigue, among them:

  • Cancellation or discontinuation of duty due to fatigue issues.
  • When the Flight Duty Period (FDP) is completed but only after some mitigating action such as reducing the workload of the duty or unscheduled inflight rest.
  • Where fatigue was observed or where the mitigations were implemented to specifically address a fatigue concern.
  • Uncontrolled sleep during flight duty
  • Anytime you are aware of another crew member’s fatigue and they have not provided a report.

What to report? “Anything that exceeds limits (e.g. FDP, off duty periods, etc.), degrades your performance to an unacceptable level, or is something affecting your current or future fatigue levels.”

IFALPA suggests, “If flight crew are unsure if a report should be provided or not, the responsible thing to do is to submit the report and let the Safety Management System (SMS) decide how to use your information.”

They also warn that “inappropriate use of fatigue reporting in an attempt to get a better roster or other lifestyle benefits is unprofessional and a misuse of the safety reporting system.”

Writing “felt tired” in a report “is not indicative of performance decrease and possible threats arising from it.” Instead, the guidance recommends communicating how duties were affected (i.e. “experienced micro-sleeps”, “missed radio calls”, “forgot procedures”, “had a hard time doing basic maths” etc.).

Typical reports include “alertness scales” such as the Samn-Perelli Scale or the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, which “are deemed fairly accurate in conjunction with a fair and honest approach to reporting fatigue hazards.”

“Flight crew should be encouraged to think of fatigue reports as part of a cycle of fatigue data collection, like the collection and trending of aircraft engine data,” advises the pilots’ advocacy group. “Fatigue trends inform decision-makers of potential safety risks. Ill-informed decisions could result in ineffectual fatigue mitigations which do not address the identified risk.”