Drive American

Published on Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Four in 10 pilots 'fall asleep at controls'

Four out of 10 UK pilots have fallen asleep while flying an aircraft, a new survey has revealed.

The report, carried out on behalf of the European Cockpit Association (ECA) which represents pilots across the EU, also revealed that a third had woken up to find their co-pilot asleep as well.

Now the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is warning that current proposals by the European Aviation Safety Agency to introduce the same working hours for pilots across the EU will make the situation even worse as they are more permissive than those already in place in the UK.

More than half of the 6,000-plus pilots who were questioned for the ECA survey said their performance had been hampered by fatigue, but 70% to 80% would not file a fatigue report or declare they were unfit to fly for fear of the reaction of their employers.

Seventy-nine percent of those who felt unfit said this was "sometimes" or "often" the case.

The ECA claimed that long working and standby hours, night flights and disruptive schedules contributed to pilots spending long periods awake. It is using the results of its survey to back up its campaign for safer flying time regulations.

BALPA said proposals by the European Aviation Safety Agency to harmonise flight time limitations cross the EU would see UK pilots working even longer hours.  It said pilots will be able to land an aircraft having been awake for 22 hours, could face night flights of up to 11 hours long and be forced to work up to seven early starts in a row. Currently British pilots can go up to 18 hours without sleep, it said.

However, a Government report said the current draft of the proposals "will not lead to a diminution of safety in the UK". In response to a Transport Committee Inquiry, it said the rules will offer a similar level of safety to that set by the US Federal Aviation Administration

The proposals will must be finalised by the European Commission and approved by Member States before being adopted into EU law after mid-2013.

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  • Fly European?

    Maybe time for the rest of us to stick to the myriad of flight offerings from anywhere other than Europe? Perhaps, the authorities would care to examine what effect this will have with airlines based in Europe before rushing out legislation? Ah, but then, I am getting too optimistic!

    By Richard Mandunya, Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • Cockpit Cameras

    And of course pilots do not want cameras in the cockpit. Meanwhile the rest of us cattle need a proctology exam to get on board. Stop the insanity, install cameras today (maybe an in flight movie option). The here and now

    By M Kierans, Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • And?!?

    And there is the autopilot and the co-pilot. Let the guy have a nap. He is there if needed.

    By Martino Matijevic, Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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