Heartened by efforts to ensure well-being of long-haul pilots

I refer to the report on long-haul pilots (Critical for long-haul pilots to be well rested; July 29).

This issue deserves attention with Singapore Airlines' (SIA's) re-launch of the ultra long-range (ULR) flight to Newark on Oct 11.

SIA pilots who have previously operated the Airbus A340-500 ULR aircraft can attest to the importance of ULR rules and practices in helping to manage their rest and counter fatigue prior to, during and after each ULR flight.

One of the biggest challenges these pilots face is managing their sleep patterns across multiple time zones, as corroborated by findings from ULR operations.

The three nights off which pilots are granted at the overseas destination allow them to recuperate and prepare for the flight back home.

The nominal four nights of mandated rest in Singapore help the pilots to be properly rested before they operate another flight.

Unlike in the past, the new ULR aircraft come equipped with independent and separate bunks for each pilot, as well as dedicated crew rest seats to ensure that the pilots are well rested.

These improved rest facilities ensure that the pilots will be able to operate to a satisfactory level of performance and safety during the ULR flight.

All these ULR rules and practices have played a significant role in ensuring safe ULR operations.

However, there is still a continual need to address transient and cumulative fatigue faced by pilots as the number of ULR flights increases.

The Air Line Pilots Association - Singapore (Alpa-S) is encouraged by SIA and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore's continued efforts to ensure the well-being of the pilots in the application of the ULR rules and practices over the years.

Captain Kenneth Lai Kwok Meng

President of Air Line Pilots Association Singapore