Transport Canada Setting New Flight and Duty Time Limits

Transport Canada is also introducing amendments to the Fit for Duty regulations that will prohibit any flight crew member to work when not fit for duty. This includes consumption of alcohol or drugs, mental and physical conditions, and fatigue.

Marc Garneau, Canada's Minister of Transport, on Dec. 12 announced changes to the Canadian Aviation Regulations that include new prescribed flight and duty time limits and the option to use Fatigue Risk Management Systems. Those will give operators the flexibility to set flight hours based on their unique operations (such as flights to remote locations) if they can demonstrate that alertness and safety will not be affected, according to Transport Canada. The new regulations apply to both major Canadian airline operators and smaller and regional operators; Canada's major airline operators will have two years to implement the new requirements, while smaller and regional operators will have four years to comply. Transport Canada will support and work in close collaboration with northern and small air operators during the implementation.

Transport Canada is also introducing amendments to the Fit for Duty regulations that will prohibit any flight crew member to work when not fit for duty. This includes consumption of alcohol or drugs, mental and physical conditions, and fatigue. The amendments will prohibit a crew member from working within 12 hours of drinking alcohol, up from the previous limit of eight hours.

Since 2015, Transport Canada has been meeting with airlines, small air operators, pilots, unions, associations, and other industry stakeholders to raise awareness of the coming changes in the regulations.

While the current regulations allow this much flight time:

  • 1,200 hours in any 365 consecutive days
  • 300 hours in any 90 consecutive days
  • 120 hours in any 30 consecutive days
  • 40-60 hours in any 7 consecutive days

The new regulations will allow this much flight time:

  • 1,000 hours in any 365 consecutive days
  • 300 hours in any 90 consecutive days
  • 112 hours in any 28 consecutive days

For consecutive night duties, the current regulations impose no limits, but the new ones will permit a maximum of three nights of duty in a row without a rest during the night. If a rest is provided during the night, the new regulations will allow up to five consecutive nighttime duty periods.

Transport Canada says a Fatigue Risk Management System is an overall risk management approach in which air operators identify hazards; assess risk; develop mitigation strategies; provide fatigue management training and education; use fatigue monitoring systems; and improve processes to reflect changing circumstances and feedback. The agency also states that an air operator will only be allowed to operate flights under a Fatigue Risk Management System if the operator can demonstrate that safety is not affected.

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