Schedules leaving some WestJet pilots fatigued, internal report says

There are concerns among WestJet pilots that their schedules are leaving them exhausted on the job, according to an internal report obtained by CTV News.

See Full Article

The report, which sums up the results of focus groups commissioned by the airline late last year, highlights frustration among many pilots, some of whom blame the issue on WestJet executives pushing to cut costs and increase efficiency.

“You’re not flying at the level you should be – and that’s the problem. There are no options,” one unnamed participant says in the document.

“Fatigue is not a free fix. They know how to fix it, but it’s all about cost. And they don’t want to spend the money,” says another.

According to the report, nine different pilot groups involving a total of 94 participants were consulted in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. It found the same key issues about fatigue and related health and safety concerns among all groups.

“Participants were passionate and overwhelmingly negative with regards to increasingly difficult schedules and related fatigue issues,” it reads.

“Many pilots believe that the increased focus on delivering value to the shareholder has been made at a significant cost to morale, culture, and trust.”

One former pilot, Rob Scratch Mitchell, said fatigue was one of the reasons he decided to quit WestJet.

He also admitted to having fallen asleep in the air.

“There have been a few times I’ve woken up and I’ve seen the other pilot nodding off as well. That’s probably something people aren’t comfortable to hear,” he said.

“We’re stretching our crews to the edge of safety.”

Asked about the report, WestJet told CTV News it’s trying to address employees’ concerns about fatigue, and has made headway since the focus group was conducted.

“A significant amount of work had already been done prior to these focus groups, and several changes have been implemented since, with more to come,” a spokesperson said in an email.

“It is also important to note that all of our pilots are scheduled not only within regulatory requirements laid out by Transport Canada, but in accordance with our pilot agreements and, most importantly, through changes implemented in accordance with our fatigue risk management system.”

There are also concerns among pilots that Canada’s regulations have fallen behind international standards, however.

The U.S. overhauled its rules after a 2009 crash in Buffalo that killed 49 people, and which was blamed on pilot error and fatigue. Many Canadian pilots are urging federal regulators to do the same now, and not wait for a similar tragedy.

“Countries such as Morocco, Bangladesh, India all have flight and duty time regulations that are a lot more strict,” said Capt. Dan Adamus of the Airline Pilots' Association.

Currently, Transport Canada allows pilots to work a 14-hour shift, longer than is allowed in many countries. The agency announced it wanted to udate the rules last year, including a new limit of between nine and 13 hours in the cockpit, but postponed their implementation.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Mi-Jung Lee



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Corriveau sentencing on fraud conviction set for Jan. 25

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - An ex-Liberal organizer convicted of fraud related to the federal sponsorship scandal will be sentenced Jan. 25. Jacques Corriveau wasn't present in a Montreal courtroom today as lawyers finalized a division of his assets to repay the amount he owes the federal government. Source
  • Woman beaten with metal bar, home set on fire in dispute over text message

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. -- A 39-year-old man from Kingston, Ont. is facing multiple charges after allegedly beating his domestic partner with a metal bar and setting their home on fire. Kingston police say the incident began on Friday afternoon when the man became angry over a text message his partner had received. Source
  • Air Canada computer issue affects affecting booking, check-ins nationwide

    Canada News CTV News
    Air Canada says technical difficulties were affecting its booking and check-in services across Canada on Tuesday. In a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick confirmed that the airline was experiencing technical issues that began disrupting service on Tuesday morning. Source
  • Another woman was in the room during 'awkward' medical exam, witness testifies

    Canada News CTV News
    GATINEAU, Que. - The court martial of a former petty officer accused of breach of trust and sexual assault has been told another woman was in the room during what a female witness described as an awkward medical exam. Source
  • Grassy Narrows chief wants Trudeau's commitment to mercury cleanup

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation says he welcomes Ontario's promise to find mercury hot spots that have poisoned the water, but he wants the federal government to commit to cleaning up the contamination. Source
  • LIVE: Garland's father says his son spoke of business dispute with Liknes

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Relatives of Douglas Garland, charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the disappearances of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents, are taking the stand on the second day of his trial. Crown lawyer Vicki Faulkner told the court Monday, that four days after the disappearance of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and Nathan O’Brien, police found a smouldering burn barrel on Douglas Garland's parents' farm. Source
  • Brazil struggles to curb prison violence that has killed at least 125

    World News CTV News
    RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian authorities are scrambling to stop a wave of prison violence that has killed at least 125 inmates in two weeks, many with their heads cut off or their hearts and intestines ripped out. Source
  • Fla. airport shooting suspect blamed 'mind control,' Islamic State ties

    World News CTV News
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The man suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding six others at a Florida airport told investigators initially he was under government mind control and then claimed to be inspired by Islamic State websites and chatrooms, authorities said at a hearing Tuesday. Source
  • Turkey: Istanbul nightclub attacker confessed after capture

    World News CTV News
    ISTANBUL -- The accused perpetrator of a New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul has confessed and his fingerprints are a match, Turkish authorities said Tuesday. They identified him as an Uzbek national who trained in Afghanistan and staged the attack for the Islamic State group. Source
  • Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s widow faces charges tied to attack

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter was arrested Monday by the FBI, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official said Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco area and is due in court Tuesday in California. Source