NAV CANADA wins global safety award for fatigue management

Organization that keeps Canadian skies safe has new pioneering solution

NAV CANADA wins global safety award for fatigue management

In the high-stakes world of aviation, safety is paramount. Ensuring the well-being of passengers and crew members means addressing a significant challenge – fatigue. NAV CANADA, a key player in Canada’s air traffic control, has taken pioneering steps to combat this issue with its Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS), which was recently recognized by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) with a Global Safety Achievement award 2023.

“Fatigue is and will continue to be an issue across all 24-hour, 365-day operations," says Anthony Mackay, vice president and chief safety and quality officer at NAV CANADA.

Fatigue is a pervasive concern in industries that operate around the clock, such as aviation, healthcare, emergency services, and more. It doesn't discriminate, whether you're a doctor, a nurse, a police officer, a pilot, or an air traffic controller, the relentless demands of 24/7 operations pose a unique set of challenges.

However, what sets NAV CANADA apart is their proactive approach to address this issue head-on.

The birth of NAV CANADA’s Fatigue Risk Management System

NAV CANADA’s relentless dedication to aviation safety culminated in the development of their Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). Mackay says fatigue is not a one-size-fits-all problem; it varies based on roles, responsibilities, and operational factors. "Not all fatigue is created equal," he points out.

The FRMS integrates three critical reports: Fatigue Risk, Fatigue Limit Exceedance, and Fatigue Review. This innovative app empowers NAV CANADA to systematically track fatigue levels across all their air traffic control centers, towers, and flight service stations, covering over 2,000 operational employees spread across five time zones and more than a hundred units.

How the FRMS works

Mackay elaborates on the FRMS's functionality, explaining that it allows NAV CANADA to monitor how much their employees work compared to established fatigue limits. These limits are customized based on factors like operational complexity and location. The system automates data collection and reporting, granting fatigue managers the ability to spot issues, adjust schedules, and work collaboratively with unions for effective fatigue risk management.

The app provides a comprehensive view of fatigue data nationwide. It allows NAV CANADA to evaluate fatigue limit exceedances and proactively address potential issues. It's not just about monitoring but also about taking informed action.

Applications beyond aviation

While fatigue is a significant challenge in aviation, it is far from unique to the industry. Many other sectors operate 24/7 and contend with similar issues. The application's framework developed by NAV CANADA could be readily adapted to various other industries where fatigue management is critical.

"The app itself is based within Power BI," explains Mackay, "and the rules it uses could easily translate into other sectors." For example, it could prove invaluable for police, fire, ambulance services, or even healthcare professionals. The key is analyzing data systematically to tell the story of fatigue levels and collaboratively identify mitigations.

NAV CANADA’s FRMS represents a pioneering solution to the complex issue of fatigue in the aviation industry.

As industries worldwide grapple with the challenges of operating around the clock, the NAV CANADA FRMS serves as an inspirational model for proactive fatigue management, ensuring the safety and health of those who tirelessly work to keep our world running smoothly.