Pilots take a nap during flight

richie217

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Dec 10, 2008
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AN undiagnosed sleep condition and a series of early starts caused two pilots to accidentally fall asleep for almost 20 minutes while flying 40 passengers over Hawaii.
The internal flight was about halfway from Honolulu to its destination of Hilo when the crew stopped responding to air traffic control.
The Mesa Airline's Go! plane flew past Hilo International Airport and out to sea on autopilot for 48km before they made contact again.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today released its findings into the incident - with both pilots admitting they fell asleep during the flight on February 13 last year.
“We had gotten back on schedule, it was comfortable in cockpit, the pressure was behind us,” the captain, aged 53 and with 20 years’ flying experience, told the NTSB.
“The warm Hawaiian sun was blaring in as we went eastbound. I just kind of closed my eyes for a minute, enjoying the sunshine, and dozed off.”
The captain said he had intentionally taken naps lasting for about 20 minutes during cruising but had never inadvertently fallen asleep like this before.

The first officer, 23, also reported entering a sleep-like state from which he could “hear what was going on, but could not comprehend or make it click”.
He eventually woke up 18 minutes after air traffic control had ordered them to change frequencies in an effort to contact the plane.
In its findings, the board noted both pilots were on their third consecutive day of shifts starting at 5.40am.
“This likely caused the pilots to receive less daily sleep than is needed to sustain optimal alertness and resulted in an accumulation of sleep debt and increased levels of daytime fatigue,” the NTSB said.
“The effect of early start times on sleep is well documented.”
The board also accepted the captain’s undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea - a condition that likely caused him to experience chronic daytime fatigue - as a contributing factor.
Flight 1002 flew over Hilo International Airport at 21,000 feet (6400m) out over open ocean before the pilots woke to land the plane safely at 10.15am.
The captain first reported to the tower they had lost radio communications after selecting the wrong radio frequency.
A few hours later, having removed themselves from duty, the captain submitted a written report admitting they had both fallen asleep.
A drug test proved negative on both pilots.
The flight attendant on board reported that neither pilot looked tired throughout the flight, but she was concerned about not receiving cockpit signals.
Source

Isn't that the whole point of having auto-pilot? :p

Seriously though, that's kind of negligent of the pilots. That's why I don't use cruise-control on the way to work in the mornings, could quite easily fall asleep on the freeway.
 
Jan 8, 2008
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Not really the Pilot's fault, they were overworked, lack of sleep and one of them has chronic fatigue (I know someone who used to have this, and he was awake for maybe 2 hours in total a day) The conditions in which they fell asleep aswell it is so easy to do when you are tired and the sun is beating down on you.
 

richie217

Power Overwhelming
Dec 10, 2008
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[QUOTE="AnotherRandom, post: 0]Not really the Pilot's fault, they were overworked, lack of sleep and one of them has chronic fatigue (I know someone who used to have this, and he was awake for maybe 2 hours in total a day) The conditions in which they fell asleep aswell it is so easy to do when you are tired and the sun is beating down on you.[/quote]

Pilot didn't suffer from CFS, he has sleep apnoea, which if I remember correctly is when the sufferer stops breathing during their sleep. Affects are just the same having interupted sleep. CFS is a little more serious than that.

Anyways both the pilots and airlines have a duty of care to the passengers which in this instance was not sufficient. If the pilots sleep apnea is that bad I would imagine he needs to find a job that doesn't put the lives of other people in his hands.