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Both Pilots Asleep At Controls of Packed Passenger Jet

british aviation autopilot civil aviation authority insufficient sleep

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#1 Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:16

Two pilots flying a commercial airliner filled with passengers were both asleep at the controls last month, leaving the jet on autopilot for an unknown amount of time, British aviation authorities said.

Authorities have not released the names of the pilots or the airline, but disclosed that the incident took place in August aboard an Airbus A330, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers, operated by a British-based airline.

The pilots came clean to authorities on their own, reporting the incident to their airline and the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority.

The pilots said they had received little sleep over two nights due to busy flight schedules and planned to rotate taking 20-minute naps, but they discovered they had both fallen asleep at the same time.

A pilot reported "both members of flight crew had only 5 hrs sleep in two nights due to longer duty period with insufficient opportunity to sleep," according to a report by the CAA.

The incident sheds new light on pilot fatigue and international concerns that flight crews receive insufficient sleep to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

The U.K. has rules governing how much sleep pilots need before they are permitted to operate an aircraft, but a CAA spokesman told ABC News it was unclear how much sleep the pilots really received because of changes in time zones when flying internationally.

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#2 Nick H.

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:19

I was going to say, aren't there rules in place that say that a pilot must be grounded for X amount of hours after working for a certain time?

Sounds like the fault was more with management than it was with the pilots.

#3 Buttus

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:34

I was going to say, aren't there rules in place that say that a pilot must be grounded for X amount of hours after working for a certain time?

Sounds like the fault was more with management than it was with the pilots.

 

they do that for truck drivers, but not pilots?!   crazy



#4 Charisma

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:36

At least nothing bad happened because of it. But yes, this problem needs to be addressed. People require sleep, especially to function safely flying and carrying other people!



#5 siah1214

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:37

I don't know what the rules are in the UK, but there are rules in the US, that are easily "worked around" so that pilots are still horribly overworked and under-rested.  It's a practice that needs to stop, before a bunch of people die. 



#6 OP Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:39

Pilots taking turns asleep would be OK, and probably a good thing, when they are overly tired.

 

But at least one should be watching the plane.



#7 Nick H.

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:38

they do that for truck drivers, but not pilots?!   crazy

According to the article they do have rules in place, it's just that this time the rules weren't followed, or someone saw a loophole about timezones.

#8 spacer

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:42

As much as I would like to blame the airlines for not managing their pilots well enough and following the laws regarding pilot rest, I still feel that it's the pilots' fault. If they are not  getting enough sleep, then they are responsible (and obligated) to tell their management that they are unfit for duty. By not saying anything, they put all of their passengers at risk. To me, that is unacceptable.



#9 Draconian Guppy

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:45

As much as I would like to blame the airlines for not managing their pilots well enough and following the laws regarding pilot rest, I still feel that it's the pilots' fault. If they are not  getting enough sleep, then they are responsible (and obligated) to tell their management that they are unfit for duty. By not saying anything, they put all of their passengers at risk. To me, that is unacceptable.

Yeah, it's not just their lives they're endangering.



#10 blerk

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:47

As much as I would like to blame the airlines for not managing their pilots well enough and following the laws regarding pilot rest, I still feel that it's the pilots' fault. If they are not  getting enough sleep, then they are responsible (and obligated) to tell their management that they are unfit for duty. By not saying anything, they put all of their passengers at risk. To me, that is unacceptable.

The management wouldn't listen and they'd probably get fired. 



#11 Charisma

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:48

As much as I would like to blame the airlines for not managing their pilots well enough and following the laws regarding pilot rest, I still feel that it's the pilots' fault. If they are not  getting enough sleep, then they are responsible (and obligated) to tell their management that they are unfit for duty. By not saying anything, they put all of their passengers at risk. To me, that is unacceptable.

I agree, but I'm not sure how it is with airlines. Wonder if it's a case of "well if you can't do the job we demand of you, you're fired, we'll get equally-overworked-but-not-whining-guy over here to do it instead, stretching his schedule even further"... It definitely needs to come down from the top.



#12 -Razorfold

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 15:22

As much as I would like to blame the airlines for not managing their pilots well enough and following the laws regarding pilot rest, I still feel that it's the pilots' fault. If they are not  getting enough sleep, then they are responsible (and obligated) to tell their management that they are unfit for duty. By not saying anything, they put all of their passengers at risk. To me, that is unacceptable.

That may be, but if they did that then the airline would just go "well our other pilots are doing just fine and aren't complaining."

In the US the FAA just recently passed a law that states that in the past 24 hours the pilot has to have at least 8 continuous hours of rest. Know what the airlines read that as? Oh we can work the pilot for 14 hours, give him two hours to get too and from work and then bring him back for another 14 hours. Before (I think, could be wrong) it was just 8 hours between flights. So if you landed, it took you two hours to get home because of traffic? Too bad for you, be at work 8 hours after your previous flight.

Generally pilots who can hold a line (basically they have a fixed schedule for that month), are better off. But if you're on reserve things are quite different depending on which reserve you are on (the policy varies from airline to airline):

- 6 hour reserve (I think), this means you have be ready to fly within 6 hours of getting a call saying you're needed for a leg.
- 2 hour reserve, same thing as the above except its within two hours.
- Ready reserve, this means you have to show up to the airport every morning and sit around waiting. If a flight leg needs you, you go fly. If not, you go home.

#13 Xerino

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 16:20

Oh c'mon, any modern airliner made in the last 30 years with an autopilot feature will start alarming like crazy if there is even the slightest mishap, not to mention it wouldve let you know if tey were anywhere within 100 miles of their destination... Pilots have been doing this for decades, these two just happened to get caught.



#14 Growled

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 16:44

... Pilots have been doing this for decades, these two just happened to get caught.

 

So right. They'll need to better than this next time. ;)



#15 ILikeTobacco

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 16:47

Oh c'mon, any modern airliner made in the last 30 years with an autopilot feature will start alarming like crazy if there is even the slightest mishap, not to mention it wouldve let you know if tey were anywhere within 100 miles of their destination... Pilots have been doing this for decades, these two just happened to get caught.

Reread the article. They didn't get caught.