EOL Field Duty Guidelines

Updated 24 January 2024


The following EOL field duty rules apply across all EOL Facilities. These rules aim to ensure an acceptable level of physical and mental performance to carry out safe and efficient observing system operations, to prevent fatigue, and to provide as much equity and consistency as possible to staff who deploy to the field. 


Duty limits specified by type of operation

Due to differences between ground-based and airborne operations, crew duty limits are broken out for those categories:

  • Ground-based operations: S-Pol, MPD, ISS, ISF, Operations Center Support, Remote Operations Support
  • Flight operations: NSF/NCAR Aircraft (GV, C-130) and airborne instrumentation, single crew.  Duty limits will apply to EOL staff flying or working on the aircraft and/or aircraft instrumentation.  Projects requiring multiple crews will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  RAF crew duty limits for flight personnel are also outlined in the operations guidelines of the RAF Safety Management System. 
  Flight Operations Ground-based Operations
Maximum duty hours any 24-hour period

10 flight hours

14 duty hours

14 duty hours
Maximum duty hours any 7-day period

40 flight hours

60 duty hours

60 duty hours
Maximum duty hours any 30-day period 120 flight hours 250 duty hours
Maximum consecutive working days 6 days 6 days
Minimum rest period between operational periods 12 consecutive off-duty hours 12 consecutive off-duty hours
Maximum days at maximum duty hours 2 consecutive days 2 consecutive days
Definition of Night Duty Showtime before 5 am; landing time after midnight 10 pm to 6 am
Time required for the switch from day to nighttime operations 36 consecutive off-duty hours 36 consecutive off-duty hours
Maximum takeoff time shift during night operations from the previous night's take off 3 hours n/a
Standard time in the field including travel time (not requiring approval) Up to 31 days Up to 31 days
Extended time in the field (requiring agreement of employee and approval by supervisor and Facility Manager 31+ days 31+ days
Extended time in the field (requiring approval of the EOL Director) 42+ days 42+ days
Minimum time between deployments (return home or PTO away from home) 2 weeks 2 weeks
Maximum duty hours any 24-hour period 14 duty hours 14 duty hours

Field Duty Time Definition

Field duty time begins when staff members depart from and ends when they return to the field work checkpoint site.  If stops are made en route for meals or non-work activities, the time spent on those activities does not count as duty time. 

Rest Periods

The project manager, pilot in command, group head, or others with management responsibility can call for additional rest time if they determine fatigue is an issue for staff in the field.  They can also make changes to work hours or schedules if environment conditions (excessive heat, cold) require adjustments.  

If significant time zone changes occur (5+ hours), additional rest periods will be implemented to prevent a decrease in performance due to jet lag.

Project-wide "Hard Down Days" are mandatory days off for EOL staff.   These will be designated by the project manager or others with management responsibility.  During Hard Down Days, no access will be granted to observing system managed by EOL. Hard Down Days are more generally applicable to airborne projects than ground-based projects.