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7.11.06 – (LAA) – APFA Receives the CAMI Findings on FA Fatigue, Prepared by NASA

Today is Tuesday, July 11, 2006, with a Special APFA Hotline update. This is Tommie Hutto-Blake, APFA President.

Yesterday, APFA received the 77-page FAA-Civil Aerospace Medical Institute’s (CAMI) findings on Flight Attendant fatigue, prepared by NASA. Though this report was presented to the FAA in September 2005, only this week have the findings become public. It is the first Congressionally-mandated and scientifically produced study on flight attendant fatigue.

With your continued support the findings of this study will be acted on in the weeks and months ahead.

Simply put, this report could not have happened without APFA’s influence and our members’ involvement. In 2004, APFA was instrumental in Congress’ appropriating $200,000 to fund this study. APFA representatives traveled to CAMI in 2005 to meet with the FAA scientists that had been charged by Congress to see that a Flight Attendant fatigue study be developed. In March of that same year, APFA co-sponsored the Flight Attendant Fatigue Summit along with TWU Local 556 (Southwest Flight Attendants) at APFA Headquarters. All seven Flight Attendant unions in the U.S. were invited and the summit was well attended by five of those seven unions as well as experts in the field of fatigue and timing studies.

Following the summit, APFA’s “fatigue campaign” moved forward with the entire APFA leadership embarking on Capitol Hill during the APFA Annual Board Meeting in D.C. in May of last year to make our voices heard on this subject. We were joined by many APFA members. Our purpose was to urge Congress to meet its own deadline of having a flight attendant fatigue study published by June 2005.

This week we finally have the published results of all of these efforts thus far. A 77-page scientific report both validating real concerns that current FAA minimum crew rest regulations for flight attendants may not allow adequate rest time and further offering six very specific suggestions in order for fatigue research to continue to address the topic of flight attendant fatigue.

These six recommendations are briefly as follows:

  1. a scientifically-based, randomly-selected flight attendant fatigue survey;
  2. a focused study of flight attendant incident reports of fatigue-related matters;
  3. field research on the effects of flight attendant rest schedules, circadian factors, and sleep loss on flight attendants;
  4. validation of models for assessing flight attendant fatigue;
  5. a study of international policies and practices to see how other countries address flight attendant fatigue; and
  6. specific training for flight crews re. the impacts of fatigue, its causes and consequences, with suggested countermeasures to employ while on duty.

APFA representatives are on Capitol Hill today urging Congress to immediately appropriate funding to support the findings of this FAA-sponsored study. APFA cannot thank the CAMI scientist and the NASA Fatigue Countermeasures Group enough for their validations that we know to be true concerning flight attendant fatigue.

I would like to conclude this briefing with one quote from this report. On page 31, the second paragraph titled “Impact on Well-Being,” I quote, “It seems clear that impacts related to performance and safety would have corollary impacts on well-being. One of the most commonly reported effects of fatigue is degradation of mood and motivation. Research has demonstrated that with increased sleepiness, there is an increase in reports of total mood disturbance (Dinges et al., 1997). Testiness and breakdown of social interactions are commonly reported among the fatigued. More specifically, sleepy people often report an increase in confusion, tension, anger and depression as well as a decrease in vigor. A recently released study of the impact of 9/11 on flight attendants’ well-being (Corey et al., 2005) provides information on the stressors introduced by the attack and the mechanisms employed by flight attendants to cope with these new conditions.”

This 77-page Flight Attendant fatigue report is available on APFA’s Web site. This issue is long from over. Please stay on the line for this week’s regular hotline message.

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