Simons R, Maher D, Stüben U, Herbert KC. Leisure pilot license proposed for Europe: do you want such pilots crossing your flight path?
Aviat Space Environ Med 2009; 80: 663–4.
"In a Notice of Proposed Amendment, the European Aviation Safety Agency proposes tointroduce a Leisure Pilot License (LPL). Holders of a LPL for airplanes will be allowedto fly single-engine piston airplanes with a maximum takeoff mass of 2000 kg or less, carrying a maximum of three passengers."
1. Due to economic pressure, requiring maximal aircraft and aircrew utilization, aircrew is increasingly confronted with irregular duties, long flight duty periods, early starts, late arrivals, night flying, and circadian disruption.
2. This may lead to impaired sleep and cumulative sleep debt, lowered alertness, and fatigue, which may affect flight safety and health.
3. Within the existing flight time limitations it may be possible to construct schedules where a combination of factors gives rise to high levels of fatigue, discontented aircrew, and/or high sick leave rates.
4. Aircrew fatigue should be prevented as much as practically possible (ALARP principle).
5. The fact that no accidents attributable to fatigue have occurred within an airline should not be used as evidence that the fatigue-related safety risk is acceptable or that the operations are optimally safe.
6. Instead, airlines should adopt a ‘just’ culture.i in which fatigue reports of aircrew should be used to identify and analyze unacceptably fatiguing rotations and take appropriate action in order to reduce the safety risk.
7. ESAM recommends implementing Fatigue Risk Management Systems in combination with Basic Flight and Duty Time Rules, based on scientific evidence and best operational practice.
Definition of a Just Culture: ‘Individuals are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them that are commensurate with their experience and training but which result in a reportable event; but gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated’ (source Civil Aviation Authority, UK).
It is commonly known that pilot fatigue is a significant issue in modern aviation operations, mainly because a number of complex and different factors are involved, such as work shifts, long duty periods, the unpredictable working hours, circadian disruptions, and last but not least, insufficient sleep. The full impact of fatigue is not perfectly understood but many of its deleterious effects have long been known.
Fatigue has been managed in the aviation industry through the use of prescriptive regulations that limit maximum work hours and require minimum rest periods. This method is flawed as it offers a one dimensional solution to a complex problem and creates a false sense of safety, or a lack of safety, on either side of an arbitrary boundary.