Eighteen months after a serious fatigue-related close call at San Francisco Airport involving an Air Canada airliner, Canada has announced it’s tightening crew rest requirements. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday the new regs will bring Canada in line with most other countries in applying rest requirements that vary according to the time of day and generally reduce the overall work times for pilots. The government is also tightening crew impairment regulations by increasing the alcohol prohibition period to 12 hours from eight hours before flight crew members report for work. “Transport Canada’s new regulations align with today’s scientific data, international standards and best practices, and respond to concerns raised by communities, pilots and airlines,” Garneau said in a statement. At the time of the Although the new rules have been in the works for years, a highly publicized mishap at SFO July, 2017 may have added some urgency to the process.
At about midnight, the crew of an Air Canada A320 from Toronto lined up for landing on a taxiway instead of the parallel runway to which they had been cleared. There were four fully loaded and fueled airliners, three of them wide bodies, waiting on the taxiway to take off. The Airbus came within as little as 15 feet of the tail of one of them before climbing out on a go-around order from the tower. Had the landing continued, it was widely speculated the resulting crash would have been the largest air disaster to date. The National Transportation Safety Board, which had never before investigated an occurrence that didn’t involve an accident, determined the cause was the crew’s failure to properly understand and apply information in a NOTAM that warned of the closure of one of SFO’s parallel runways. But the report also cited as a contributing factor “fatigue due to circadian disruption and length of continued wakefulness.” At the time, the crew was in compliance with Canadian regulations but would have exceeded crew rest limits for U.S. crews.