UK pilots union flag cockpit fatigue peril

An alarming number of pilots admit to having woken from a nap taken mid-flight only to find the other pilot also asleep – and the fear is that new rules from Brussels could make matters worse.
UK pilots union British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) said that in a recent poll of its members 43 per cent reported having fallen asleep on the flight deck, and of those, 31 per cent said they had awoken to find the other pilot also asleep.
“Napping on the flight deck can be helpful and improve alertness for landing, but obviously it is not without its risks, ” said Jim McAuslan, BALPA’s general secretary, pointing to the recent case of a fatigued Air Canada pilot putting his aircraft into a dangerous dive.
Canada’s Transport Safety Board has just published its report into the incident and confirmed that pilot fatigue was to blame when the first officer thought his aircraft was about to collide with another aircraft over the Atlantic.
BALPA said the Air Canada incident shows that pilot fatigue is a serious problem with potentially serious consequences and is calling for the UK to opt out of new European measures drawn up by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) governing the number of hours pilots can work.
“There is little doubt that incidents like this will happen to UK aircraft more often if the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s plans are not changed,” said McAuslan who said the number of pilots falling asleep at the same time – already distressingly high – could rise as a result.
“EASA’s fatigue proposals, which will replace the UK’s domestic arrangements, will drastically increase the total amount of time pilots could be awake for – up to 22 hours – before landing their aircraft. And crucially, given this incident, will allow pilots to fly far further without a relief crew member on board.
“The Canadian report is a timely reminder to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Government to take the pilot fatigue issue with the seriousness it deserves, and to agree an opt out for the UK so we can maintain the current high safety standards in the UK which we have enjoyed for decades.”
Read more:
European fatigue rules dangerous: UK pilots
Fatigue: The Dossier

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