This interview is intended to acquire a more direct insight of the project topic being studied. I have developed some questions that in my belief would assist in further developing of the final Capstone paper. The topic of my project is Human Fatigue Affecting Runway Operations Safety and Runway Incursion Avoidance. In this project, I intend to cover two lenses: Economical/safety and culminating with a biblical perspective lens.
Mentor Interview Transcript
- What is your professional experience in the aviation field, and specifically in the airport operations field? My experience started in 1996 as an employee for United Airlines at RDU. I then joined RDU Airport Authority, Operations Department in 2002 as an Officer, then promoted Supervisor in 2017 and to current position as Interim Director in 2022.
- When did you first enter the aviation field, specifically the airport operations field?, and what were your initial experience expectations? As mentioned prior I entered the Airport Operations field in 2002. My initial experience expectations were feelings of excitement, curiosity, and amazement. On the flip it was overwhelming because the lack of experience I had in the Airport CFR PART 139 world. I quickly learned the important role Airport Operations played with the overall FAA compliance for RDU. If my operations team along with myself don’t keep up with everyday compliance issues, we could be shut down! To this very day my motivation is based off that simple fact.
- I am privileged and thankful to you in granting me the chance to implement this project here at Raleigh Durham International Airport, and for having you as my mentor. However, What do you hope to see achieved by this project? First, thank you for the kind words, it is my pleasure. This project could provide some interesting insight on current patterns of human behavior, possible fatigue perhaps that is a contributing factor with unsafe incidents we have on occasion here at RDU. Any extra attention given to that area for possible corrective actions is a welcome endeavor I fully support.
- As a mentor, what are your recommendations in regard to safety in the air operations area, specifically ground operations while on taxiways and near runways? Enhance training opportunities, continue with lessons learned from prior safety incidents, fact gathering for patterns of contributing human elements of safety violations/incidents, better overall communication for situational awareness, better signage, and markings campus wide, promote creating more policies and procedures for better clarity and last thing more web based instructional videos for 24/7 reference for all stakeholders and airport staff.
- This project is intended to study the safety risk associated with ground crew operations at the Raleigh Durham International Airport. Among those risks, human fatigue is one of the most dominating factors in ground incidents and runway incursions. What is your general perspective of human fatigue, and what is your opinion with crews working for an extended period? I’ve seen this countless times over the years where fatigue plays or had a role in unsafe situations. The mind & body needs proper rest and nourishment to function at a normal capacity. Both are usually hindered with lack of one and/or the other. Crews working extended periods of time enhance the chances for bad things to happen. It’s critical that Management & coworkers keep an eye on each other for fatigue to avoid possible injury or death to themselves and others.
- In your personal and professional opinion, do you consider extended scheduling of working times for ground crews on the air operations’ area (AOA) is efficient and safe? Absolutely not! It is not efficient nor safe. For example, an Operations staff member shift can be no longer than 12 hours and days off spaced out properly to avoid this. Everybody wants things done “yesterday” and that mentality can lead to pushing an employee to their limits that can have serious consequences.
- Can a fatigued ground crew member/s be prone to cause a runway incursion due to extended duty time and without proper rest between work shifts? Most certainly! In my belief, someone who is feeling tired, that person may not even know it due to work intensity. So that person is not fit to work properly.
- If a fatigued ground crew member/s cause a runway incursion, what would be the ramifications of his or her actions? Is the fact that the ground crew member/s was or were fatigued considered as main factor for the caused runway incursion or incident? The fatigued ground crew ramifications could be deadly to put it bluntly. A runway incursion is the most serious infraction Airport Operations is faced with. Fatigue is a factor that’s considered as a root cause during the process of investigation. The violator may not even admit to being fatigued but observation of body language could be a telling sign to prove otherwise.
- What are the immediate operational consequences when a runway incursion occurs? It depends on the accident and airport. Example, RDU has 2 parallel runways. Once an incursion occurs the airport is closed until situation is secure. If one runway was affected, then Operations could inspect other parallel runway to open for traffic while investigation continues the impacted runway. This could be same scenario from a simple subject on tug entering the runway without permission or up to a tug being hit by an aircraft causing a crash. Amount of delays and cancellations would occur based off longevity of impacted runway closure due to spacing of arrivals and departures in a single runway configuration. One thing to note that in most cases, an airport only needs runways in one direction.
- What could be the possible economic impact to the airport, once a runway incursion has occurred, and what would be the possible remediation measures taken to prevent a future incursion to occur due to a fatigued ground crew member? The economic impact could be time of investigative process, cost of retraining and cost of corrective actions. Taking proactive measures educating tenants with airside driving privileges to keep the working hours of employees to a standard 40-hour work week and/or not allowing shifts over 12 hours. Provide training tools such as incident videos, data reports from safety violations involving fatigue to better promote the subject.
- The following question is of a general perspective and not from a personal belief or view. How would you relate the biblical perspective into the human fatigue issue?
A Christian perspective acknowledges we were made to work and commanded to rest. Four things to find comfort according to life spring counseling are:
- God himself shows us how to rest on the 7th day.
- We are created with needs only our creator can fill.
- It is normal to try and take on more than we can handle.
- Finding true and satisfying rest is refreshingly simple.