Crew member fatigue is now acknowledged as a hazard that predictably degrades various types of human performance and can contribute to aviation accidents and incidents. Fatigue is inevitable in 24/7 operations because the human brain and body function optimally with unrestricted sleep at night. Therefore, as fatigue cannot be eliminated, it must be managed.
Fatigue management refers to the methods by which Operators and operational personnel address the safety implications of fatigue. In general, the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) support two distinct approaches for fatigue management: a prescriptive approach and a performance-based approach.
In the prescriptive fatigue management approach, operations must remain within prescribed limits established by the regulator for flight time, flight duty periods, duty periods and rest periods. In addition, an operator should manage fatigue hazards using the SMS processes that are in place for managing other types of hazards.
Performance-based regulatory approach
The operator develops and implements a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) that is approved by the regulator. An FRMS allows an operator to adapt policies, procedures and practices to the specific conditions that create fatigue in a particular aviation setting. Operators may tailor their FRMS to unique operational demands and focus on fatigue mitigation strategies that are within their specific operational environment.
There is no “off-the-shelf” version of an FRMS, each operator will need to develop an FRMS appropriate to its organizational and operational specificity and the nature and level of the fatigue risk(s).