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Regulations for duty time limitations in different countries (Part 1)

Updated: Jan 9

This article initiates a series dedicated to reviewing the legislation governing the crew working limitations in the world.

Why is this topic relevant to Planex? We develop digital products for optimizing crew management for airlines worldwide. Therefore, the development of universal solutions that can be tailored to local regulatory requirements provides a competitive advantage, reduces time-to-market, and simplifies the support of our solutions.

Let's start by listing the current international regulatory documents that usually serve as the basis for adapting and developing national legislation. It's important to remember that each airline independently develops its internal documents based on national legislation, agreements with labor unions, and the unique characteristics of its route network.

The first international regulations defining crew flight limitations were established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council in 1961, specifically addressing the establishment of limitations on flight duty periods and provisions for rest periods for flight crew members. These regulations have evolved over time, and the current framework is outlined in Annex 6 "Operation of Aircraft" to the Convention on International Civil Aviation Part 1 - International Commercial Air Transport. This document lays out regulations for flight time, flight duty periods, duty periods, and rest period limitations. Over time, these regulations have evolved into the overarching concept of Fatigue Management.

Now the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) support two distinct approaches for fatigue management​ such as a prescriptive approach and a performance-based approach. The State of the operator must establish regulations to manage fatigue.

A prescriptive fatigue management approach, where flight operations must adhere to predefined limits set by the regulator for factors such as flight time, flight duty periods, duty periods, and rest periods. Additionally, the operator should manage fatigue-related risks using the Safety Management System (SMS) processes already in place for other types of hazards.

A performance-based regulatory (Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS)) approach, which enables operators to leverage advances in scientific knowledge, enhancing safety and operational flexibility. An FRMS is a system that uses the SMS processes and procedures of a service provider to specifically identify and mitigate crew member fatigue as a potential hazard. It focuses on addressing real-time fatigue risks in the applicable operations, rather than relying on predicted risks that underlie prescriptive limits.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), ICAO and International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) developed Fatigue Management Guide for Airline Operators since 2011. This guide has been adopted around the world as a successful path to implement FRMS.

More detailed information can be found on the official websites of ICAO and IATA.



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