Charter operator GrandView Aviation has formally implemented a fatigue management program that cuts the duty day for its 50 pilots by two hours, to 12 hours. Its duty days had been pushing 14 hours—the maximum allowed under FAA regulations—partly in response to the overwhelming demand for charter flights GrandView has seen beginning earlier this summer.
Additionally, GrandView pilots will be seeing a $15,000 increase in pay, with starting pay for a Phenom 300 captain now $110,000 a year and a $12,000 bonus for newly hired Phenom 300 captains; compensatory rest for flight crews that awards pilots extra hours off for working beyond their schedule; and limits for those volunteering to work on their days off. Now, pilots will be limited to working no more than four extra days during their rotation of eight days on and six days off. “We’re trying to put brakes on how many hours they can work and work safely,” GrandView COO Jessie Naor told AIN.
Naor said the fatigue program was born out of her time serving on the FAA’s duty and rest rulemaking committee, whose membership included “a lot of fatigue science researchers,” she said. “I learned a lot through that process about how the human body reacts to sleep and other environmental factors that the crewmembers have to deal with.”
Further, GrandView has internal key performance indicators such as the reporting of fatigue among its pilots. As the company saw demand for its flights increase in mid-2021, it also saw those fatigue measures “creeping up,” Naor said. “So we said let’s internally make a policy where we’re going to try not to schedule [our pilots] past 12 hours. And we immediately began to see those performance indicators go down.” The 12-hour rule is now an official policy within the Maryland-based company that operates a fleet of 14 Phenom 300s and seven domestic charter bases.
GrandView is also looking to add 70 more pilots through next year, and Naor hopes the fatigue management program and the pilot pay increases—$80,000 a year for a starting Phenom 300 first officer—will help with its recruiting of additional flight crewmembers.
Like other charter operators in the industry, GrandView is wrestling with increasing demand for its flights. “Even before we limited the duty day…we were turning down at least half of the trips that we were requested to do,” Naor said. “We’re not able to accommodate just due to not enough airplanes and enough pilots. Even if we had double the size fleet, I think the demand that we’re seeing in the market is just so incredible no one can keep up with it.”