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Pilots: Your Duty Limitations?  
User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 50
Posted (13 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4758 times:

Sitting at home today, I was called out by my airline and asked if I would work my day off tomorrow (Sun 29th) taking a flight from Gatwick (LGW) to Sharm El Sheik, Egypt (SSH) and back to Gatwick.

Since I have been short of things to do lately, I agreed. It got me thinking about flight time limitations pilots in other countries are subject to. Here in the UK, a 2-man crew (like we will be tomorrow) can operate for 13.25 hours on duty (if I recall correctly). This is a limitation of the United Kingdom CAA.

Now tomorrow we will report for duty at 11:55 departing LGW at 12:55, followed by a 5 hour 10 minute flight to SSH arriving at 18:05 GMT. With an hour on the ground we depart at 19:05 and fly for 5 hours 40 minutes back to LGW arriving at 00:45 on Monday morning. That is 12:50 on duty.

I think I am correct in saying this duty period (for a 2-man flightdeck crew) would not be permitted in countries like the USA?

So what are the restrictions in other countries in Europe and the rest of the world? I just wonder if you can all be as hard done by as us Brits?!


I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
15 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAJ From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 2406 posts, RR: 24
Reply 1, posted (13 years 5 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 4646 times:

We are on a 11 hour duty limit than can be extended to 12 if required due delays etc. For TofDs of that length we'd be given a Second Officer. That sounds like a long day Rick!

User currently offlineI LOVE EWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 852 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (13 years 5 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 4636 times:

Rick, thats quite a long day. Are there any 'strategies' you and the other pilot do to stay alert on those long flights?

User currently offlineEjazz From United Arab Emirates, joined May 2002, 740 posts, RR: 33
Reply 3, posted (13 years 5 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 4627 times:

Hell Rick that is a long duty. We could it but it would have to be a 3 man crew, 1 Capt and 2 F/Os.

We can operate upto 12 and a half hours as a 2 man crew but should the flight be disrupted or delayed by 1 minute we can, unfortunately, extend that to 16 hours but I wouldn't like to try.


Etihad Girl, You're a great way to fly.
User currently onlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3590 posts, RR: 44
Reply 4, posted (13 years 5 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 4551 times:

AA's contract isn't simple, but the very basics are:
Depart Time: 0600-1800 = 12.5hrs Scheduled, 13hrs Rescheduled & 14hrs Maximum on duty.
Depart Time: 1800-2100 = 11hrs, 12hrs, & 13hrs respectively.
Depart Time: 2100-0600 = 10hrs, 11hrs, & 12 hrs respectively.

That's the real simple version, but you have to account for the FAA's newest interpretation as well.... no pilot can actually takeoff (go airborne) unless he can "reasonably expect" to arrive at destination at a time when, at that point in time, he can "look-back" over the previous 24 hours and identify 8 hours of uninterrupted off-duty time. Sometimes you gotta love government lawyers for finding the most complex ways of doing things.  Crying

FWIW, AA's "no-fault" fatigue policy prohibits company actions toward a pilot who is too fatigued to fly a trip. Claim fatigue a lot and you might be sent to a company doctor, but there is no coercion to fly when tired.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineCx flyboy From Hong Kong, joined Dec 1999, 6813 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (13 years 5 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 4482 times:

Ours is also quite complicated, but Rick, in your example, we would also have a Duty Limit (2 crew) or 13.25 hours. Other limits vary depending on number of sectors, start time of day, and whether we are acclimatised or not to begin with. 13.25 is the maximum 2 crew can do, the lowest being 9 hours if starting at the back of the clock and doing multiple sectors (4 or more).

User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 7562 posts, RR: 76
Reply 6, posted (13 years 5 months 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 4450 times:

Indonesian Domestic 2 crew ops: 6 cycles per day normal.


When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlineGate Keeper From Canada, joined Jan 2000, 176 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 5 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4347 times:

Canadian duty day rules are probably the most archaic in the world. Some Canadian airlines have restrictions based on union contracts but our government regulations allow 14hrs. duty(2 man crew) 15 hrs. (3 man crew). No limit on cycles or night rigging. Of course the "unforseen operational circumstances" can extend your duty day up to 3 additional hrs. So Rick you had an average day for us.  Nuts

User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 50
Reply 8, posted (13 years 5 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4350 times:

Thanks for the responses guys - I feel much less hard done by now. In fact the flight was ok, if not a little tiring as we picked up a 1 hour delay and so didn't return into LGW until 01:45.

As for staying alert on these flights eating food, reading the newspaper and a magazine or two and drinking plenty of coffee pretty much does the trick. The first and last hours of each flight tend to go by quite fast so it's just the 3 hours in the middle which drag on a bit. So tempting to stay in Egypt though - it was about 22 degrees when we landed  Smile

I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 4251 times:

Hello Rick -
For Argentina, it is as follows:
Flight crew of 2 is 12 hours duty maximum from the time at which the crew reported to operations office... Flight time limitations is 8 hours...
Flight crew of 3 is 16 hours duty maximum from the time at which the crew reported to operations office... Flight time limitations is 12 hours...
Surprised that you are legally able to operate with such long duty... we are probably much more strict, our system is generally inspired by US FAA rules...
Happy contrails -
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 50
Reply 10, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 4217 times:


Nice to hear from you, hope you are well.

Yes certainly those rules are more strict than the rather dated UK CAA regulations. Our longest scheduled flight is LGW-CUN (EGKK-MMUN) which is 11 hours ETE at this time of year. So we are on duty for about 12 hours as a two-crew team on this one (with 11 hours actual flying). Having a third crewmember and rotating rest periods would be a real advantage on this one for sure!

Take care,


I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 4207 times:

Dear Rick -
All OK, just took vacation in the Amazon, Jivaros tribes do not indulge in internet activities...
And yes... a third flight deck crewmember... some thoughts about it -
In the 747-400, the F/E was... sadly... "retired"... this reduces the duty and flight time which can be assigned to a 2 pilot crew - yet on a longer range aircraft type... the result is - airlines retired F/E (crewmembers at a lower salary bracket) with a third pilot, for flights over 8 hours... with an additional pilot, but this one must be "captain qualified"... as per regulations... so the third crewmember is now a crewmember requiring higher salary, more frequent training in simulator... where was the gain for the 747-400...?
Personal opinion, as much as it was ridiculous for US airlines to require a 737 flight deck crew to consist of 3 pilots (as they did in the 1970s), operating a 747-400 with 2 pilots is as ridiculous, based on typical flight duration for that type aircraft... every -400 crews I see are of a minimum of 3 pilots, sometimes even 4 pilots...
 Wink/being sarcastic
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineCx flyboy From Hong Kong, joined Dec 1999, 6813 posts, RR: 55
Reply 12, posted (13 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 4192 times:


I guess a 4 member crew compliment for the 744 is 2 complete sets of crew. With the F/E, you would need 6 pilots. Plus, on short haul flights there are considerable cost savings in having 2 crew. Many airlines around Asia fly the 744 on many short-haul routes as well as long haul ones. I know the F/E was a useful member of the crew and normally very capable and knowledgeable. I guess from an accountant's and a technical view they just weren't needed.

User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2636 posts, RR: 52
Reply 13, posted (13 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4108 times:

Rick et.al.,
In the USA, the basic domestic two-pilot rule is that you can be on duty for 16 hours, but fly no more than 8 hours in any 24. Things start to get complicated by airline contracts that may limit that duty time further. (Ours is a 14 hour limit). The 'look back' rule that AAR90 talked about is pretty straight forward - at ANY time you must be able to look back in the previous 24 hours, and find at least 8 hours of rest. And in the US, rest can not include deadheading etc.

Since what I fly (US mainland to Hawaii) is covered under the Flag (international) regulations, we may fly more than 8 hours in 24 provided there is a rest period before we reach 8 hours, and the rest must be at least twice the flight time preceding it. For example I can (and sometimes do) fly a 5.5 hour trip from Hawaii to the west coast of the US that leaves in the afternoon. Reaching the mainland, I must have an 11 hour rest period (twice the flight time), then can fly a morning trip back to Hawaii that takes 6 hours, arriving not quite 24 hours since I left. I've now flown 11.5 hours in 24, but because of the rest period, I'm legal. This is true however only for two pilot international operations. Once I've done this and exceeded the 8-in-24, I then have to have at least 18 hours off.

Flag rules also limit us to 32 hours in 7 days, 100 per month, and 1000 per year. However the domestic rules are a bit tighter, and we have to be careful if we have to fly a domestic leg on one of our trips.

Hope this helps.


One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineFlysab From Belgium, joined Nov 1999, 106 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (13 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3989 times:

I fly for a charter company in Italy, and with 2 pilots + 1 FMS ( yes yes, the FMS is almost considered as a pilot !! ) we may do 12 hours of flight time and 17 hours of duty time. No difference for day or night.
With 3 pilots + 1 FMS we may go to 24 hours of duty.

User currently offlineLdaops From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (13 years 4 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 3959 times:

In Italy if your airline is classified as long range your limits are 13 hours of flight and 17 of service.
If you want exceed this limit you have to have O/B a pilot that in order that every crew member do not exceed the 8 hour of flight and the 24 hour of service.

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