British pilots admit having a nap

Four in 10 British pilots confess to falling asleep at the controls of an aircraft, a new survey reveals.

A damning report shows that a third of these pilots admitted to waking up finding their co-pilot asleep as well. Fuelling concerns over safety regulations, the 2012 survey for the European Cockpit Association (ECA) found that half of 6,000 pilots from Europe said tiredness had affected their ability to fly.

Worryingly, of those who felt unable to fly, a massive 79% said that this was ‘sometimes’ and ‘often’ the case. The study suggested that the issue is rarely reported as 70% to 80% of pilots said they would not file a fatigue report or declare they were unfit to fly.

Philip von Schöppenthau of the ECA said: “Fatigue impairs the judgment and ability of air crews to react quickly, with potentially disastrous consequences.“We cannot wait for another accident before the EU wakes up and realises its rules are insufficient.” The ECA claims that long duties, standby hours, night flights and disruptive schedules all contribute to keeping pilots awake for long periods of time.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published its Flight Time Limitation guide in October, which is designed to equalize regulations across the EU. It currently suggests that pilots will be able to land an aircraft having been awake for 22 hours and could face night flights of up to 11 hours long as well as having seven early consecutive starts.

The British Airline Pilots Association does not follow the EASA’s guidelines and currently British pilots can go up to 18 hours without sleep. Travellers taking a flight overseas might not have control over the pilot’s sleeping habits, but they can take out financial protection before departing. Travel insurance can give you peace of mind and protect you financially should you have an accident or be the victim of a crime.

Date Created: 21 November 2012

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