The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Pilot fatigue:
Preparing the next fatal accident

Sep 22, 2008

Since 1990, fatigue contributed to 10 airline accidents and 260 deaths, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Tired pilots have been involved in hundreds more close calls. In April 2007, a Pinnacle jet ran off a runway, at the end of a 14-hour duty for the pilot. In February this year, both pilots of a Go! jet fell asleep for 18 minutes, missed their Hawaii landing and headed out to sea. The pilots had been on duty almost continuously for three days.

In April this year, a safety board member told Congress, “Little or no action has been taken.” A veteran pilot said his schedule was often “take a shower, brush your teeth, pretend you slept.”

Rules requiring pilot rest have not been updated since the 1960's, despite many studies proving those rules are blatantly dangerous. But airlines say they are obeying the law, and besides, hiring more pilots would be too expensive.

In other words, the airlines guarantee that the next fatal accident is already in their plans.