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Pilots dozing at controls

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Pilots dozing at controls

Old 5th Sep 2001, 16:46
  #21 (permalink)  
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You're right, SLF, many a time after an all night (meaning a 10 1/2 - 12 1/2 hour flight) with a morning arrival, I often used to think "I wonder how confident the pax would be, if THEY knew how WE feel right now - during one of the critical phases of flight!"

As for the captain who doesn't allow his crew to sleep - he needs to do some research into the subject, and perhaps then he might realise that just because the other crew member(s) eyes are not closed, that doesn't necessarily equate to him being fully awake and reliable.

If you're tired, TELL the other guy that you NEED to sleep.

There's nothing wrong with setting one of those noisy old alarm clocks, if you think there's a chance that the other chap will nod off when he should be awake.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 02:55
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Yes this thread should continue; it's adressing the single most important issue in commercial aviation at the moment.

Allowable flight deck 'napping' and 'wake up devices' are looking at the problem from the wrong end; a bit like taking aspirin to stop the headache instead of buying a bigger hat!

The proper solution as we all know is a combination of realistic FTL's, appropriate rostering and adequate crew ratios.

Few things matter very much, most things don't matter at all.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 04:25
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Beleive it or not, but i too have succummed to the odd nap whilst flying. Fortunately i was single pilot ops so no-one was there to scare. The first couple of times it happens it does come as a shock to you however after you get the knack of it, it's really not that much of a drama. My first experience was when I was doing a ferry flight a few years ago in a C172 from thailand to Aust. I had been up all hours the night before with two lovely oriental ladies (money well spent) and a bottle of Vodka and woke feeling a little tired. Looking in the mirror i realised my eyes looked like **** holes in the snow but i had to deliver this aircraft back to it's owners so i departed. After about 8hours flying a started getting heavy eyelids and then that was it until i heard the stall warning going on and off intermitently. I woke and found i had dozed off and lost several thousand feet but apart from beeing pissed off that i'd have to climb all that way back to height, nothing was wrong. It was then that i realised the stall warning has 2 functions. 1) notifying the pilot of an impending stall condition and 2) a very simple wake up device. If you are flying single pilot and require 40 winks than go ahead. BUT MAKE SURE YOUR HAND IS TIED TO THE CONTROL COLUMN. This is very important as after a minute or two of sleeping your whole body will relax and your hand will fall back against your body, pulling the controls back and stalling the aircraft. Stall warning goes off and you wake up. Get back on height and do it again. You can do this many times and when you get to your destination you arrive fresh and ready for your next international ferry flight. I like to call this technique "macro-naps". These are far more productive than micronaps as you get longer periods of Z's.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 05:14
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GenAv, hope your owner had good insurance.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 05:27
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Genav

I hope youv'e retired.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 05:52
  #26 (permalink)  
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GenAv--

I'm not sure that technique is applicable to civil aviation, although it has a certain elegance. Not sure that the stall warning would do much good in icing, engine failing or anything else that upset the normal smooth running of events, either.

It's also interesting that you think a long period of sleep is better than a short one. Sleep (and fatigue) are imperfectly understood, although quite a lot is known. Micronaps can be better for recovering alertness than sleep where a later cycle is entered only to be interrupted. (aside: I seem to remember that Napoleon claimed to go for very long periods without sleep, except for tiny moments where he deliberately dozed off holding a spoon above a teatray. The noise of the spoon hitting the tray woke him up, much refreshed. Or so he said.)

I wonder how many pilots know as much about *how* tiredness and sleep affect them as they do about the systems of their aircraft?

R
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 07:17
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GenAv

I am intrigued.

You obviously practised this in dual configuration prior to departure (vodka-assisted)...but what actually happens when you tie your own hand to the column (stone-cold sober) and the buzzer goes off?

Great of you can pull it off.

Many years ago there was a Welsh ex-fleet air arm driver by the name of Moody-Jones. On the top of his old navy helmet were the words.."dig here for MOO". I suggest you getv one made up..it will make it easier to dig you out...

Happy stalling.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 11:14
  #28 (permalink)  


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Av, Sounds a great idea!

But as SLF on a commercial carrier, I'd much prefer more than 2 pilots on a long sector - same as I'd prefer more than two donks! (Did someone mention ETOPS in the thread regarding the Transat incident? Maybe after 2 flame-outs the drivers would have realised there was a fuel problem earlier and configured feed to keep the 3rd one going)

(Have to admit that I landed safely after doing an 8-hour transatlantic yesterday on a 767 - but I'd still have preferred a 3-holer)
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 12:00
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Nice post Av. In all seriousness, I knew a guy once who flew freight (newspapers) in a 172RG with a "wing leveller" autopilot (i.e. single channel aileron only).

He used to set his wristwatch alarm, then place the watch inside his headset earcup, and sleep in flight (single pilot at night) for twenty minutes or so, until the alarm woke him up.

Wasn't you was it?
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 12:28
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Hei,GenAv....And you even BRAG about it??????I Think you are in the WRONG forum,You better go to the WANNABES'....CHEERS and HAPPY STALLS
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 12:46
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FJ - GenAv is a self appointed wind up artiste to the site.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 13:26
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8 hrs and still in the snooze and at cruise in a C172..guess we all knew it wasn't Dick Smith on a rtw sojourn.

Was fooled by the BKK pre-flight checks which looked pretty standard.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 14:59
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As most of us long range pilots will agree,especially those with charter/or freight airlines,(no luxury for 3/4 crew)
that 12 hr,flight time, 2 pilot back of the clock is very tiring,especially on the return leg/s.(naturally min rest in between)
The built-in a/c protection is risky,(ie not touching any system button etc for 30 mins,or the secal dinging in the back ground asking for your late position report.A good investment is a small egg? timer,they are cheap,easy to set,ie 20,30 mins,and will save you a visit to the chief pilots office.
Even though you ask your crew member "ARE YOU OKAY",set the time for the next position report etc,i can assure you its peace of mind.(IT MAY WAKE HIM UP TO)
I see no problems with one pilot of a multi crew team having 20 or 30 mins shut eye tme to time,it is a safer operation especially if you have to shoot a vor or ndb at the destination.
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Old 6th Sep 2001, 17:23
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I did know of an F/E on a certain multi engine transport a/c with cavernous hold who used the egg timer set at 50 mins on vibrate to wake him up to fill in his log!!! worked for him.
On a serious note the company i work for does suggest that on night sectors the cabin crew should visit the flight deck at least every 20 minutes, admitedly on an empty frame trying to find one of them awake down the back can be sporting sometimes!!!
Honesty however has to be the best policy!! if your tired say something, have a snooze, but dont forget if your tired then probably so is everybody else so let them have there turn as well.
on a personal note last time i went to sleep in the seat i got woken up by a no.2 eng fire warning!!! tended to have a long term psychological effect in dissuading me from sleeping on the job!!!
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Old 7th Sep 2001, 04:39
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Better to be rested than tested. Policy should and probably will migrate towards more rational use of managed "catnaps".
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Old 7th Sep 2001, 08:06
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Traffic: very good point you made on page one. That terrible duty period was just one of many at such carriers. This is only a tiny tip of a gigantic iceberg, which our FAA prefers not to know about, unless many more revenue passengers die (at the same time) because of it.

That was the first accident of a US air carrier where the NTSB blamed crew fatigue as the primary cause. The MD-83 accident at Little Rock (KLIT) caused the FAA (our "Tombstone Agency", as former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo reminded us) to finally include a scheduled rest period among consecutive duty days/night-because people died, not cargo: and this after decades of ignoring the reality, due to their priority of indirectly subsidizing the airlines' cost structures. I've twice flown with two FOs recently who flew either Kallita's DC-8 or Learjet. The guy from Florida who flew the Lear for about five years, said that at the end of a 14-hour duty period (with no scheduled or actual rest period/s), they sometimes had to fly for several more hours on a ferry flight, when empty. They were somtimes on duty 20-24 hours or so with no rest period. The US FARS allowed this (still do?), because there were no passengers or cargo (Part 91, versus 135 or 121).

I just finished a trip tonight with a guy who flew DC-8s at Kallita, and he said again that one DC-8 had NO elevator deflection, as indicated by a cockpit gauge. Connie allegedly claimed that the pilots didn't understand the system-but the plane would not have rotated for takeoff! All three plus the mechanic stood together, stood up to the company owner and refused to fly the plane, while convincing him that the plane would not fly-he then either repaired the system or found a spare plane. I wonder how accurate his DC-8 fuel gauges are. Even the better carriers don't trust them much.

Once, he allegedly flew a Lear solo, and when an FAA inspector saw him upon arrival at an FBO and asked where his First Officer was, the guy said he did not need one, closed the door and taxied out for takeoff. That is pretty much the version which the former Kallita pilot told me.

Guvnor: were the DC-8s which you flew well-maintained?

[ 07 September 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]
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Old 7th Sep 2001, 10:59
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With 25 years in this industry the first 18 on the ground working a 3 shift system and then 5 years night cargo i did not have to much of a problem wih fatigue as all the shift times were "allmost regular" but when i changed fleets i found that the roster was about as stable as a south american goverment and fatigue started to set in.

At first i tryed to ignore this rapidly increasing problem (after all it was the first time i 22 years in aviation and i did not want to admit even to my self that i could not "hack it")but the evidence was to big to egnore ,and when the company started keeping me on my feet (quite leagaly)for 26 hours when returning from a weeks flying just to save a few £ on an airline ticket i had had enough.

I left that company for a lower pay job and got my life back , im sure that if i had not taken the action i did i would of killed myself driving home or worse.

On reflection it seems to me that it is not the hours that you work (within reason)but the work/sleep patern that is the problem.
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Old 7th Sep 2001, 16:14
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There is a wealth of evidence out there that a 20/30 minute 'power-nap' is safer than fighting fatigue and 'nodding-head' syndrome.

Do a www.google.com search with "NASA" and "Rosekind", and you'll find numerous references to studies done in this area.

Typical quote:

"Working with the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA researcher Mark R. Rosekind scheduled sequential 40 minute naps for the pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers of commercial 747s over the ocean. Then naps were to prepare them for descent and landing, the most hazardous segments of the flight. Napping crew members, who slept an average of 26 - 40 minutes, were much more alert following their snooze than non-nappers. Then performed better, bringing clearer thinking and greater quickness to their tasks. Those who did not nap experienced almost four times as many "microsleeps" - naps lasting seconds, when the brain involuntarily dozes off."
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Old 8th Sep 2001, 17:36
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So the PanAm idea of having a dog on the flight deck to both keep the pilot awake and to stop the 1st officer from touching anything important, didn't catch on ??
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Old 9th Sep 2001, 12:32
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Nice one GenAv. Yes the preflight procedures did tend to add authenticity.
Along with the dog in the cockpit didn't they have also carry a duck and a cat. Duck to throw out and follow when lost, and the cat was for IFR, throw it out and watch which way the feet pointed for ground orientation.
I do remember a certain gent at a pilot forum years ago dropping lots of jaws as he praised his autopilot because he explained that he could set it then go back and have a sleep having set his big alarm. He meant it too.
Had a girlfriend who worked PanAm and came back from a South American run where the Captain had been doing the PR tour of the cabin when some passenger asked what time they were landing. Capt looks at watch, goes pale and excuses himself. F/O and F/E fast asleep, destination overshot.
Happened in EAA inbound to Dar when a passenger noticed that brown had turned to blue underneath and asked hostess to investigate. Two gents up front were both in the land of nod.
Woke up one morning on a long direct across Monckton sector and found everybody else asleep, was pretty horrified and now opt for declared short spells rather than involuntary lapses. As Forrest Gump so succinctly put it **** happens.
Edited for major spelling and to say, loved the flying pigs on # 1's posting but they look as though they have only got one wing had to look real close to spot t'other

[ 09 September 2001: Message edited by: Paterbrat ]
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