Scheduling Committee Update: New Disputed Pairing Process - 7/24/17
Scheduling Committee Update: New Disputed Pairing Process - 7/24/17


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New Disputed Pairing Process

Review of a 777 Dispute

In April, the SIG disputed a number of 777 pairings with a short layover preceding the PVG-MEM flight. We were concerned that it may be difficult to get enough rest prior to the long leg back to base.

Here is an example pairing:

In July, ALPA SIG withdrew our dispute.

Since the rollout of CBA 2015, there are a number of questions and misconceptions regarding the new CBA disputed pairing process.

Why were 777 crews not notified that a pairing was being disputed?

The new CBA states “Note: Both parties agree not to intentionally characterize such pairings in a way that compromises the scientific validity of data gathered on such pairings until the dispute is finally resolved.” This translates as not listing the pairings or issue under dispute.

According to the new dispute-pairing process, “If the only underlying rationale for the dispute is based on a fatigue-related concern, the dispute must follow the FRMG track.”

Hence the fatigue-related disputed pairings are not listed in the SIG Notes as they have been in the past. While we still may have a traditional dispute, most of our disputes are solely fatigue related.

How did the new FERC process proceed?

In April, the pairings were sent to the FERC. The SIG forwarded the fatigue concerns we anticipated with the PVG layover. A short layover (characterized as less than 22) may not afford time for pilots to have adequate rest for the landing back in Memphis. PVG drive times to/from the hotel are in excess of one hour, cutting into rest time on the ground. We were also unsure as to how much sleep pilots get in the aircraft. If that number was low, coupled with a lack of sleep prior to alert time, pilots may not have enough sleep in the 24-hour look-back.

What is the 24-hour look-back and why is it important?

Fatigue-modeling software utilized by ALPA and FedEx is not accurate for pilots traversing multiple time zones. There is no scientific model that is accurate in that situation. But what is an effective scientific tool is the 24-hour look-back. Less than four hours in a 24-hour period begins to raise red flags on alertness levels. With actual pilot actigraph sleep data, we can analyze the alertness levels of the average crew during the critical landing stage in Memphis.

Why does the FERC process take four to six months or longer?

For a sleep study to be valid, there needs to be about 20 data points. After 10 data points, the data set may still be inconclusive or it may point to an overall trend. If a FERC pairing only occurs once a month, it would take a year to get enough data to come to a preliminary conclusion if every crewmember responded to requests for sleep data.

Why withdraw the pairing from the dispute process?

There are a number of reasons for the SIG withdrawing this pairing design from the process at this time.

  • Data collection: Sleep data shows pilots getting adequate sleep
    In the data that was collected, crewmembers had an average of six-plus hours of sleep upon arrival back in Memphis. An average closer to four would have raised red flags.

  • Inability to tease out data subsets
    In our goal to get as many data points as possible in the shortest amount of time, we cast a wide net, perhaps too wide. We asked the FERC if data for 20, 18, or 16 can be separated out of the data set collected. There could be a large difference between a 20-hour layover compared to a 16-hour layover prior to a 14-hour flight. Currently, the company does not have that capability.

  • Zero feedback from line pilots
    During this year we have had over 100 of these short layovers prior to a long leg. There have been zero fatigue calls. There have been zero fatigue reports.

ALPA SIG and FRMC continue to ask every month for feedback to difficult pairings. When we go to the company and request a pairing change they look to see if there have been fatigue reports/calls to support our argument for pairing change.

It is important when you believe fatigue affected your performance to fill out a fatigue report and document it.

Fatigue Reports can be found at (under reports) to provide specific feedback. You can also fill out a scheduling PIREP or email the ALPA SIG or ALPA FRMG with your concerns.


Captain Martin Harrington
Scheduling Committee Chairman





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