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A report sponsored by the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine indicates that maintenance organizations have been slow to implement fatigue risk management (FRM) policies. Agency officials hope the AC will provide additional resources to encourage FRM development.

FAA Human Factors Advisory Addresses Mechanics’ Sleep Deprivation

Advisory circular from FAA targets improved fatigue risk management procedures for MROs.

On Dec. 2, 2016 the FAA continued its focus on human factors in maintenance and published Advisory Circular (AC) Maintainer Fatigue Risk Management (FRM). The AC took three years for agency officials to produce; the final document has not changed substantially since a draft was released for comment last spring.

The guidance document comes in response to previous studies and reports citing maintenance-provider fatigue as a “serious safety hazard.” A study completed in 2000 found that, on average, maintenance providers slept 3 hr. less than the recommended eight, a sleep deficit twice the national average. In a subsequent survey of maintenance personnel around the globe, 82% stated that human fatigue was a problem in their organizations.

The AC seeks to educate the community on basic sleep needs, FRM systems and the benefits of incorporating FRM in a safety management system (SMS). The AC joins several other fatigue guidance documents directed at the aviation community and continues the trend to drive fatigue management through SMS in lieu of a “one-size-fits-all” duty-time limitation. FAA officials have stated that there are no plans to couple the guidance with formal rulemaking. 

— Crystal Maguire

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