Fatigue is an inevitable hazard in the around-the-clock aviation environment, naturally degrading various types of human performance. In aviation operations, managing fatigue is important because it diminishes an individual’s ability to adequately perform operational tasks, thereby affecting operational efficiency, and increasing risks in safety-critical activities.
Fatigue management is a shared responsibility between the regulators, operators/service providers and individuals. The regulator is responsible for providing a regulatory framework that enables adequate fatigue management and ensuring that the service provider is managing fatigue-related risks to achieve an acceptable level of safety. Operators/Service providers are responsible for providing fatigue management education, implementing work schedules that enable individuals to perform their duties safely, and having processes for monitoring and managing fatigue hazards. Operational personnel, such as aircrew members, air traffic controllers, maintenance personnel, and military operators, are responsible for arriving fit for duty, including making appropriate use of non-work periods to obtain sleep, and for reporting fatigue hazards.
Today, the ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs) support both prescriptive and fatigue risk management system (FRMS) approaches in managing fatigue such that both approaches are based on scientific principles, knowledge and operational experience.
Prescriptive duty time limits represent a single defensive strategy — being inside the limits is safe while being outside the limits is unsafe. While they are adequate for some types of operations, they are a one-size-fits-all approach that does not take into account operational differences or differences among crew members.
An FRMS employs multi-layered defensive strategies to manage fatigue-related risks regardless of their source. It includes data-driven, ongoing adaptive processes that can identify fatigue hazards and then develop, implement and evaluate controls and mitigation strategies.
The Manual for the Oversight of Fatigue Management Approaches (ICAO Doc 9966) describes the oversight of fatigue management approaches in aviation. It has been designed to be read in association with one or more of the relevant implementation manuals, depending on the professional group being regulated and monitored.