Nearly 70 percent of UPS pilots polled recently in a survey by the Independent Pilots Association strongly disagree that the integrator “mitigates fatigue risk” when potential issues over routings or scheduling are presented to officials.
In the poll, which gathered responses from 2,200 crew members across two days in March, 68 percent of pilots strongly disagreed that UPS mitigates fatigue risk when prompted, while 21 percent somewhat disagreed. When asked if UPS manages threats to fatigue and prevents fatigue risk, 62 percent of the pilots disagreed strongly, while 28 percent of the pilots disagreed somewhat.
The Independent Pilots Association submitted the survey of its pilots as part of the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into a UPS A300-600 that crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in August, killing both crew members. The plane, which crashed right before 5 a.m. local time, had been coming from Louisville. According to the flight voice recorder, which was released by the NTSB as part of its investigation, the pilots had been complaining about a lack of sleep before the crash. They had also been talking about sleep requirements for pilots, in
general, and comparing the relative oversight of those who fly passenger
planes versus cargo pilots.
The NTSB convened hearing into the accident on Feb. 20. In a press conference that day, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said the carve sleep-duty requirements, which only apply to passenger pilots because of a carve-out instituted in the 2011 Department of Transportation rule, make no sense.
“There is no reason to exempt pilots simply because they are carrying
pallets rather than passengers,” she said. “A fatigued pilot is a
fatigued pilot, and pilots who are flying on the backside of the clock
are even more susceptible to being fatigued.”
According to the survey, the vast majority of UPS pilots have felt fatigued on duty, with 95 percent of the respondents affirming that they have been fatigued, and 2 percent responding they were unsure about their fatigue. The survey found that pilots don’t call in fatigued because they think they might get suspended or be punished in some way (23 percent), calling in fatigued brings scrutiny/questioning by management (17 percent), and they would lose pay or sick days (10 percent).
For all the fatigue talk, when asked to describe their work life, only 30 percent of the respondents classified it as unsatisfactory, with 4 percent of those pilots calling it very unsatisfactory.