On 3 March 2009, the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved international standards, which stipulate that regulations on flight and duty time limitations must be based on 'scientific principles and knowledge'. These standards became effective on 19 November 2009 and remain applicable.
On 13 June 2011, the Council adopted international standards for Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) with a view to better addressing crew fatigue, which is considered a key contributor to aircraft accidents. The new standards, which would amend current standards of ICAO Annex 6 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation - Operation of Aircraft Part I - International Operations - Aeroplanes came into effect on 30 October 2011 and become applicable on 15 December 2011. Global standards on limitations applicable to crew duty hours have gradually become obsolete and inapplicable in the face of varying operational contexts that require globally harmonized management systems containing standards and guidance material. In July 2011, ICAO, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) issued guidance for operators that provide air operators with information for implementing an FRMS that is consistent with applicable standards and recommended practices (SARPs) of ICAO. Also in existence, hand in hand with this guidance, is the Regulator's Manual that guides regulators through the FRMS process. Both these documents are accessible through the ICAO website.
On 30 and 31 August 2011, ICAO held an FRMS Symposium where a unique gathering of more than 500 representatives from government, the air transport industry and the scientific community held important discussions that resulted in several conclusions. Both the regulatory regime and the discussions in the Symposium bring to bear important issues of air crew integrity and their responsibility to disclose vital information in terms of their fitness to pilot a flight as well as their continuing health. This article, written from the perspective of the crew with focus on the technical crew, discusses their liability for non-disclosure of critical information of a pre-existing medical condition and concludes by asking compelling questions to ensure safety of flight.Air and Space Law