The Air Canada Boeing 767–333 (registration C–GHLQ, serial number 30846) was operating as flight ACA878 from Toronto, Ontario, to Zurich, Switzerland. Approximately halfway across the Atlantic, during the hours of darkness, the aircraft experienced a 46–second pitch excursion
Although some will certainly make great use of "The FO initially mistook the planet Venus for an aircraft but the captain advised again that the target was at the 12 o'clock position and 1000 feet below" it still doesn't show great airmanship.
The f/o must be one gungho fly by the seat of the pants ace with lightning quick reflexes, superb at hands on manual flying! In his mind, do not trust those electronic gizmo like TCAS, EPGWS...they are always giving false indications. Can blame him as he was probably still in dreamland and may still be in dreamland even when fully awake.
In my experience, if one wants to take a " controlled " nap, I always make sure the seat is retracted full back and reclined back with the pilot fully strapped with seat belt and shoulder harness so that he/she does not accidently interfered with the controls in case of sudden reaction to nightmares or agitation. I had one guy who woked up suddenly with a jerk, kicking the rudder and his hands flailing across to the thrust levers!
What is interesting but sad, is that the Relief Pilot who was to operate the return leg, ZRH-YYZ, was deadheading in the back. Air Canada, it seems, are trying to save a few bob, as a DHD only attracts 50% of the pilot's hourly rate. Increasing shareholder value, while at the same time sacrificing flight safety has to be a major concern for those pax travelling Air Canada! Comments?
Having spent many years on shift work in the pharmaceutical industry I can confirm that 'sleepiness' can create some pretty weird "illusions". Actually I'm surprised to read that a sleeping pilot can have such rapid access to controls on waking.
Before he had children, the FO's normally slept 8 hours per night. After having children, the FO normally slept approximately 6 to 7 hours per night, between 2300 and 0600, which could often be interrupted when the children required care. Often, the FO would take a nap early in the afternoon for an hour in an attempt to make up for lost sleep. The FO followed a normal sleep pattern during the 2 non–working days prior to the occurrence. The night before the occurrence, the FO was able to obtain nearly 8 hours of rest with some child care interruptions before waking at approximately 0600.
Soooo.....being an airline pilot AND having small kids at the same time is inevitably going to cause fatigue problems??? Well I agree entirely but what can we do?
The really important bit is not to sleep too long. A lot of people think the longer you sleep the better. With controlled rest this is a dangerous assumption. It is extremely important that the nap be no longer than forty minutes. Sleep inertia may (I emphasize may) also have played a role in the Air India Express disaster. I have done a great deal of night flying over recent years and my experience is that a few minutes napping can be extremely helpful, but it needs to be carefully monitored.
The best quote is off Yahoo saying that "The Air Canada pilot was apparently suffering from "sleep inertia" -- the stupor that follows a long nap -- when he sent the plane plunging some 400 feet in 46 seconds, throwing those not wearing safety belts out of their seats."
I'll remembed that insane VS next time I'm landing the Ikarus...
So, since this pilot was heading eastbound, I find it hard to understand how he could have seen Venus, which, as an evening star, could only have been behind him.
I include myself among the "Old Fogeys" who could have been taken in by this Venus Talk since I remember many flights eastbound towards Asia when Venus did show herself as the morning star, and on seeing Venus we were encouraged that we were nearly home, for breakfast.
Now for a cycle Venus is an Evening Star. Unfortunately most of us pilots are working so hard that we do not have time to study the universe that we live in.
A sleeping first officer or, maybe a little like Venus, an unidentified flying officer or object!
Seriously though I don't know anything about Air Canada's SOPS but surely they mandate a couple of minutes before an officer who has been sleeping is allowed to take control? This incident is just another marker in the long fatigue debate! Anybody for a 3rd pilot on certain flights?