Aviation Lingo: The Crew Ran Out Of Hours
If you don’t fly much, you will probably never hear this sentence in your life. Unless, the day that you chose to fly was a bad day. This can be used as a reason why your flight got delayed or cancelled.
But what does this “the crew ran out of hours” really mean?
Did the whole crew just die because they ran out of hours to live? Did they run out of and decided to join the circus instead?
Why did the crew have to run out of hours just on the day of your dream trip?
Long Working Hours
We work very long hours and sometimes we may work up to 14 hours a day, in very challenging days we may even be awake for longer than that. Luckily, both flight and cabin crew are used to these long days and are very good at ignoring tiredness.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) created a number of rules and regulations to keep flying as safe as possible. One of those rules is a number of hours that a crew member can work and a maximum recommended amount of hours that a crew member is allowed to stay awake.
These rules are a bit hard to understand and there are many factors that influence the amount of daily hours that we can work. The Golden rule is: The later in the day we start the earlier we need to finish.
The crew needs to report one hour before the departure time. If your flight is running late, chances are a whole crew is at the airport waiting for the aircraft to land so they can take over, prepare it and take you to that beautiful trip.
Maximum Working Hours
Now let’s say that from the time of departure, the maximum working hours that the crew can do is 10 hours. If the flight is 3 hours each day, that makes 6 flying hours, on top of that you need to add the turn around time, check in time and check out time.
A day with two flights of 3 hours can be a 8 hours duty time. If the previous flight was delayed and there are no spare aircraft in the airport, both the crew and passengers need to wait for the delayed aircraft to return.
Because the aircraft is running late, your flight will probably get a slot restriction, as a result this easy 8 hour day can quickly turn into a 10-12 hour day. Remember when I said that the maximum working hours for that day was 10 hours? This means that the crew might go into discretion.
Going Into Discretion
Imagine that the aircraft had a technical problem after landing and an engineer needed to check the problem and sign saying that the aircraft was able to fly again.The engineer was busy working on another aircraft so the crew had to wait for him to finish and come check theirs.
By the time the engineer is done and the aircraft gets signed off that it can fly again, the crew reported 10 hours ago. If they do the flight they will do a 13-hour duty. The captain will then assess how the crew is feeling and if they are fit to operate the flight.
If some of the crew members are too tired to do their safety-related duties, the flight might have to be operated with reduced crew or a new crew will have to be called to replace the old crew. If there is no crew available, the flight might be cancelled.
Being Fit To Fly
If by some reason a crew member isn’t feeling well, his/her ability to carry safety related duties might be impaired. That’s why it is especially important to know if everyone is feeling okay and fit.
Imagine that an emergency situation arises and one of the crew members isn’t able to perform as good as it should. This means that a pilot can make a mistake or a flight attendant might not be quick enough to start an evacuation.
If someone is too tired, their response time will be longer and in a catastrophic scenario a second can make a difference between getting everyone out safely or leaving someone behind. In aviation, little mistakes have a high price.
So everyone needs to be certain that they can do their safety-related duties without any problem – being fit to fly.
Running Out Of Hours – What Does It Means?
It means that the whole crew worked the maximum amount of hours allowed legally and they won’t be able to work again before getting at least 10 to 12 hours of rest.
If there are any strikes happening or really bad weather, these are usual very challenging times and crew ends up working longer hours than it was planned.
If that is the case, they might need more rest time so they can do their duties at peak of their performance and get you to your holidays safely. In result, your flight might had been delayed/rescheduled/cancelled because of that.