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Old 30 September 2013, 06:58 AM
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Airplane Half of British pilots admit to falling asleep in cockpit

More than half of British airline pilots say they have fallen asleep in the cockpit, a survey said, ahead of an EU vote on flying hours which a pilots' association said could compromise flight safety.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/half-britis...2--sector.html
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Old 30 September 2013, 07:18 AM
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Except for take off and landing, isn't it mostly automatic nowadays anyway? And isn't there a copilot?

I am not saying a sleeping pilot is ideal at all, nor a groggy pilot, but if I had to choose between a pilot who has forced himself to stay awake for the least dangerous bits or a pilot who catnapped then and thus was more alert during the most dangerous bits, the choice seems pretty obvious to me. Of course, they could always schedule pilots so that they have more rest times, but I doubt that is going to happen.

If sleeping in the cockpit is incredibly common, and accidents are pretty darn rare, it can't be a monumental problem. Sure, it is not a reassuring thought but simple math and logic dictates that it can't be as scary as it sounds.
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Old 30 September 2013, 07:36 AM
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There was recently a news article here about 2 planes that very nearly collided. An air traffic controller had given one plane permission to change altitude without realising that would place it in the path of another plane. Collision avoidance systems on both planes kicked in and the pilots were able to avoid the collision. To me, that is one very good reason why I would want pilots to be alert at all times. Although take off and landing are the most dangerous times, emergencies can occur at any time and need to be dealt with quickly and decisively.
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Old 30 September 2013, 07:58 AM
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Like I said, it is far from ideal (although I imagine most naps take place at cruising altitude and not when maneuvering is likely to be an issue). The ideal would be airlines hiring enough pilots to enable a good rest period between flights of any real duration, but I think we all know how likely that is. Tye numbers show that it is not like falling asleep while driving, for example, though.

For the most part I will probably just try not to think about it on my next flight, kind of like I try not to speculate when the trucker behind me last slept, or how long the intern who sees me in the hospital has been on rotation. It is a risk I can do nothing to avoid, and which The Powers That Be are unlikely to remedy.
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Old 30 September 2013, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
I am not saying a sleeping pilot is ideal at all, nor a groggy pilot, but if I had to choose between a pilot who has forced himself to stay awake for the least dangerous bits or a pilot who catnapped then and thus was more alert during the most dangerous bits, the choice seems pretty obvious to me.
There are actually airlines and countries (the US isn't one of them) that explicitly allow one pilot at a time to take a short nap in the cockpit. ETA: The UK is one of the countries, actually, so I'm not sure how much of an admission it is that half of pilots have fallen asleep while flying. The bigger story is the number that reported waking up to find the other pilot asleep, IMO.
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Old 04 October 2013, 09:12 AM
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The ideal would be airlines hiring enough pilots to enable a good rest period between flights of any real duration, but I think we all know how likely that is. Tye numbers show that it is not like falling asleep while driving, for example, though.
In the US we do have those laws. I know that recently the laws were either changed or they were talking about changing the laws on it. It use to be they were given something like X hours of rest between X number of hours of work.

The issue was the X hours of rest were from the time they left the plane to the time they returned to the plane. So while it seemed fair like 8 hours, it really wasn't enough time. By the time they left the airport, got the hotel, ate, slept, woke up, cleaned up, drove to the airport, etc they were lucky to get 4-5 hours of sleep.

I don't what would be fair for the number of flight hours. I am not a pilot, so I don't know what would be a fair number, but the rest period should be at least 12 hours.

As a frequent flier I can tell you that traveling, sleeping, eating, etc all takes longer when you're traveling. While they do get through security faster then we do, I have still seen the crew take 1/2 or more to get through TSA.

I was surprised at how flight attendants are paid. One was explaining they're paid differently when the air place is on the ground vs in the air. Something like they are only paid from gear up to gear down. She was trying to explain why they deserved sympathy when the news was making them seem over paid. Basically they may look like they're working 40 hours for 65K, but really they're working many more hours for their pay.

I never looked into it but I do remember my brother's ex-wife complaining about her hours as a flight attendant.
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Old 05 October 2013, 12:49 AM
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For over seas flights some airplanes are equipped with flight crew rests area. This is a little rest area with a bed or two for the flight crew. This shows the one for an Airbus A350, see item #15.

Airbus_A350_XWB
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Old 05 October 2013, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wintermute View Post
The issue was the X hours of rest were from the time they left the plane to the time they returned to the plane. So while it seemed fair like 8 hours, it really wasn't enough time. By the time they left the airport, got the hotel, ate, slept, woke up, cleaned up, drove to the airport, etc they were lucky to get 4-5 hours of sleep.

I don't what would be fair for the number of flight hours. I am not a pilot, so I don't know what would be a fair number, but the rest period should be at least 12 hours.
Yeah, IIRC the rest requirements were recently increased from 8 hours to 10 hours, and at least 8 of those hours have to actually be in the hotel room. I have heard that some airlines have been hiring new pilots as a result of the new requirements.

The other recent change is that in the wake of the Colgan crash in Buffalo, Congress mandated minimum qualifications for airline pilots of something like 1500 flight hours. With the new hiring due to the new rest requirements, a lot of pilots currently flying for regional airlines will probably move up to the major carriers. I wonder how or if the regionals will be able to find enough pilots who actually meet those new minimum requirements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Singing in the Drizzle View Post
For over seas flights some airplanes are equipped with flight crew rests area. This is a little rest area with a bed or two for the flight crew. This shows the one for an Airbus A350, see item #15.

Airbus_A350_XWB
Yeah, but that's for long flights where they carry an extra pilot (or two for really long flights), so there will be two awake pilots in the cockpit while one is resting. Not the same thing as taking a nap in the cockpit with only one pilot awake.
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Old 05 October 2013, 02:21 AM
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I am not sure I am convinced "8 hours in the hotel room" is enough. That results in 8 hours of sleep only if you assume that they can fall asleep the second their head hits the pillow, and that they need no time to shower, shave, dress, or do anything of that sort. They have high pressure, high responsibility jobs, and for that you need adequate sleep to make decisions quickly and well. I would prefer something like X hours on, 12 hours off.
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Old 08 October 2013, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
I am not sure I am convinced "8 hours in the hotel room" is enough.
I wrote that from memory. I should have looked up the actual rule. This FAA press release says "The new rule also mandates that a pilot must have an opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep within the 10-hour rest period." I do wonder if an extra 2 hours is enough to actually allow for that opportunity, though.
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