Extra Duty

Extra Duty

34TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Jerusalem, Israel, 27-31 March 1995

WP No. 127

Extra Duty


During the 32nd Annual Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, it was identified, as a result of the review of International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations, that the Federation has no policy with regards to overtime and the need to introduce such policy on the subject.

ILO Report recommendations No 24:

“Since overtime is undesirable from the safety as well from the social points of view, it should be avoided.”

During its deliberation, SC4 felt it would rather use the terminology “Extra duty” when referring to overtime work in order to introduce in the notions of operational and non- operational duties.


The concepts of cumulative duty time, similar to that of flight crews, should be introduced with notions of both non-operational and operational extra duty. It is felt that regardless of the nature of the work, cumulative hours of work impacts on human performance. It was felt there was a requirement for definitions of extra duty, operational and non-operational duty. ATCOs should be able to determine their capability to work in excess of their normal working hours. This way ATCOs can take into consideration such factors as fatigue, personal, social and family commitments which can affect their readiness to perform such extra duty. ATCOs should have the option of refusing extra duty when fatigued, as only he/she can make this determination. Where extra duty is mandatory such human factors as fatigue is often overlooked.

Limiting the number of shifts or hours through legislation (as it is done for ATCOs in some countries, and for pilots and cabin crews in most countries) would prevent ATCOs from working while fatigued or under duress and would allow them to get adequate rest between their normal hours of works. Without this type of preventive measures, human factors having a possible impact on safety can take precedence over socio-economic concerns. Extra duty should be regarded as undesirable and therefore should be restricted to exceptional situations. Staffing shortages do not constitute an exceptional situation when they have persisted over a long period of time. Extra duty should not be used as a mean of avoiding the proper hiring and training of ATCOs or as a mean of staffing air traffic control positions.

Where there is a need for extended hours of operation, extra shifts and proper staffing should be used to provide such coverage. Therefor, extra-duty should not be used as a mean to prolong normal working hours if ATCOs. The requirement on the agency to pay a high premium to those required to work extra duty should discourage agencies from using extra-duty as a mean of staffing Air Traffic Control Units. This would also encourage agencies to establish better human resources plans eliminating shortfalls in staffing.


There is a need to clearly define the notions of extra duty, operational and non- operational duties. The necessity to avoid extra duty in civil aviation is based on recognition of the fact that excessive working hours, fatigue and adverse social conditions affect aviation safety.


On page 4132 of the IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert new paragraph 3.5 titled “Extra Duty”.

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.1:

“Extra duty is defined as any operational or non-operational duty or a combination of both performed outside of the scheduled hours of work which will result in an increased total duty time for the ATCO.”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.2:

“Operational duty means the performance of duties for which the ATCO is exercising the privileges of the ATCO licence in an operational environment. Non-operational duties are other duties for which the ATCO is not required to exercise the privileges of the ATCO licence which, from time to time, are assigned to an ATCO (Theoretical ATC training, investigation, etc.)”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.3:

“Extra duty should be voluntary and used only in exceptional situations.”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.4:

“In the interest of aviation safety and the well being of the ATCO population, extra duty (control) should be considered as an undesirable method of staffing Air Traffic Control positions and should be avoided.”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.5:

“IFATCA recommends that each Member Association inform its members of the ill effects of sustained extra duty on their health and on the performance of their duties as ATCO’s.”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.6:

“Member Associations should, through consultations with their respective employer, attempt t acquire adequate staffing which considers established documentation on the adverse affects of extended hours of work.”

IFATCA Policy Manual page 4132 insert para 3.5.7

“Member Associations should attempt to have duty time regulated by the appropriate body. Where legislation is not achievable, hours of work and extra duty should be stipulated in their respective collective agreements.”

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

February 12, 2020   464   Jean-Francois Lepage    1995    

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