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This is your Captain Sleeping....

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This is your Captain Sleeping....

Old 20th Jul 2003, 03:18
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Tan,

In hindsight that is a perfect conclusion to reach. In todays litigous society, only bad things come from videotapes.

But consider: The copilot on a puddlejumper airline is probably not a high time pilot though, in this case I may be mistaken. Judgement is something that is born of experience and the F/O in question may have decided that letting the "old man" snooze a few winks at cruise was the safest alternative, deciding to wake him before descent. The captain may have mentioned to the F/O that he had slept poorly the night before or was unusually tired. We have no idea what really transcribed before this event. I will tell you this, ANY phase of flight other than cruise is NO time to be catching 40 winks. Do you want him snoozing on final? Do you want him nodding off during an IMC approach to minimums? In a two crewmember aircraft, I am unaware of any rule that prohibits a cat-nap at cruise for the PNF. In fact, recent NASA studies have pointed out the benefits. This captain may have been a narcoleptic unable to stay awake reliably and ,if this is found to be the case, he should be removed from the cockpit permanently.

I am not sure the Twin Otter has air conditioning and I am guessing the temperature was in the 90'sF -the perfect environment for an inadvertant nap. There is no one this planet that hasn't found him/herself nodding off at times due to fatigue.

What we have here is a purely natural and unintended aspect of human behavior being thrust into the limelight by some journo-nazis bent on making some headlines out of a boring newsday.

This is so like the media. Like Dan Rather declaring the NWA 225 crash in DTW in 1987 solved because witnesses "saw the plane on fire and the aircraft had had an engine changed a few months prior." In fact, this particular plane MUST have had recurring engine problems because a couple of engines had been replaced since it was built ten or more years prior. Rather built a shoddy case that these "engines are failing every few years" and as such must be dangerous and defective. Bull Honky! I wrote Mr. Rather and pointed out the small fact that if what he said about the JT-8 series of engines was true, planes would be falling out of the sky at a horrific rate. Historcal statistics bore my argument out. The accident investigation revealed the aircraft took off with no flaps extended. The fire was the result of the left wingtip striking a light post in a car rental lot off the departure end of the runway which removed a chunk of the left wingtip. The engines were operating normally.

Rather's whole story was rubbish. Pure crap. And it is so typical of media people coming to quick judgement with little experience or expertise in the field. They never come out and admit their fabrications are wrong after the fact. Instead, they hire supposed experts who have expert license to pontificate all manner of "mights" and "coulda beens" under the auspices of factual investigations. It's fine to guess but all such guesses should be labeled as such, not infered to be actual facts. It's fun to watch the media step all over themselves when they find out one of their own is blatantly fabricating stories like the New Your Times recently did. Hypocrisy at its best.

The media has done society a great disservice when it comes to educating the public about aviation.


PT
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 03:24
  #42 (permalink)  
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You can huff and puff all you want. I stand by my opinion that sleeping while on duty is a no-no.
To those here who accuse others on commenting of this specific “incident” without having all facts”: not the point in this discussion.
I could not care less what the reason this chap fell asleep is. He had a load of folks who thought he is in control of their flight.
I agree humans are not machines. That is why we have brains that let us know when we can perform our job safely. Regardless of having the autopilots doing the job for us we still are there to supervise that this great feature does what it is supposed to do. How would you like to wake up to the alarm when a/p disconnects?

Anthony Carn.

You chose this profession with full knowledge this is going to be your life style. In your interview for an airline pilot did you demand you get naps while flying? Also, what are the rules/regs on pilot fatigue, how much time can one operate a flight none stop, and how many hours a month does one log? On the average. You see, there is full understanding of what you are saying on sleep depravation, disruptions or havoc in pilots’ personal lives. You do not fly 40 hours a week every week, do you?

B737NG
Do not get personal. Just my opinion.
I’ll ask you this: will you take a trip on the bus knowing your driver works shifts, faces dangers on the road, gets his “rest” in noisy hotels and is allowed to nap on duty?

Advertising that napping is a typical behaviour while flying is not going to do our business any good.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 03:31
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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No fatalities in 2003 PlaneTruth ? I'll give you the benefit and assume you meant 2002.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 04:48
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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PaperTiger

DOH! (I'll hold my breath for just a few more months and maybe, hopefully, I'll be right! Positive thoughts now everyone!)

Thanks for keeping me honest.


jet_noseover

Pardon me, but my ire towards the uninformed/ignorant was not directed at the individuals but, rather the sources from which they (we all) get their news. Remember, I outted myself as one out of the ignorant masses. Of course John Q. Public is ignorant about aviation if their sole source of information is the news media. This whole story should have been a "closer" piece at the end of the newscast rather than another headline.

You seem to believe the captain was the only one in the cockpit. What good are F/O's for then? By your own standards, they could easily be left behind as a waste of usable gross weight. This may reveal a glimpse into your management style in the cockpit were you a pilot. If a guy is not qualified to maintain level flight, what is he doing in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft? Fetching your biscuits? Telling your what a great guy you are? Telling you how great your landings are or how much the "girls" love working with you?

How about monitoring the autopilot for God's sake? I say the sooner we demystify aviation, the better for us all. Good pilots start out as good copilots and they have to learn somehow. Your response reminds me of a lady who was floored when I told her the "firm" touchdown was the new F/O working on his flare picture. "How could you let someone with lesser experience risk all our lives" she asked in mortal disbelief. I looked her right in the eye and sid, "M'am, twenty years ago I was right where he is today. We all have to start somewhere." (What I wanted to tell the old bat was, "If you think you can do a better job then he, here's an application.")

Someone is huffing and puffing here and it is not I.

PT
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 06:34
  #45 (permalink)  
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jet_noseover

I tend to respond sparingly to wind-up merchants, but I suspect that you're actually serious. It seems to me that you are so far removed from the stark realities of commercial aviation that your attitude is consequently over-simplified/naive.

Regardless, it serves a purpose to answer your points, since others are watching what is said.

I chose this profession, to use your phrase, partly based upon the assumption that flight time limitations and legal minimum rest periods were properly formulated and would, therefore, be effective in protecting me from excessive fatigue. I assumed that I was joining a civilised profession. I assumed that work, rest, proper provision of acceptable food, quiet overnight accomodation etc etc would be of a certain, decent standard. I assumed that fatigue would be kept in check by the regulations to the extent that I would always feel able to give 100%. I assumed that if I elected to offload myself from a flight due to a self-assesment of fatigue, that my decision would be accepted without question, investigation, personal interview, psychiatric assessment or threat.



I won't comment any more specifically than to hint at the reality, being unsure of the implications.

Draw your own conclusions.

Must go now -- I need to sleep. (Is that OK with you jet_noseover ?)
 
Old 20th Jul 2003, 06:57
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Angry

Anyone out there that thinks it is possible to stay wide-awake throughout every long duty day or night is at best naive. At worst they are complete morons with no understanding of what fatigue is.

There are many FTL schemes around the world and none of them adequately ensure a pilot is always properly rested for every flight. As long as one crewmember is awake and both parties are in agreement that it is a quiet portion of the trip and the workload is low, then a catnap is perfectly acceptable and indeed increases flight safety. It assures both pilots are awake for the important bits, approach and landing for example.

I do not believe either of these pilots should have lost there job instead the FAA would be well advised to look at the duty times these guys had put in prior to this flight and ensure their employer was following the rules. Frankly the FAA's reaction is very disappointing. The FAA may be better spend there time prosecuting the folks who took the pictures for distracting the flight crew (F/O) from his primary duties, I believe that is an offence!

The level of ignorance out there is breath taking! This Captain may have only been on a short sector but fatigue is cumulative and recovery times vary from person to person. He may have been on his first sector after days off, but how many duty hours had he done over the last 28 days? How many over the last year and so on? Does he have a medical condition? A headache has already been mentioned. Any personnel problems, noisy neighbours at home or in the cheap hotel that his company may use?

Of course we could all just bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the world is perfect and every pilot is always fully rested and alert 100% of the time! Of course every company always goes out of it’s way to use good rostering practice and insists FTL limits are followed to the letter and their crews stay in the best hotels! And of course every FTL scheme takes into consideration every situation and every pilots physiological requirements at any given time!

Putting toys back in the pram now!




Last edited by kinsman; 20th Jul 2003 at 07:13.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 09:31
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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AC/ kinsman,

Obviously you both speak from experience. Excellent posts both.

Reference the FAA, the media reports here in the States indicate the captain voluntarily quit. Whenever ANYTHING happens the FAA ALWAYS launches an investigation but I doubt anything will come of it. Perhaps a letter in his file for a period.

There, but for the grace of God (and a solid door) go I.

PT
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 10:15
  #48 (permalink)  
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Anthony Carn:
“It seems to me that you are so far removed from the stark realities of commercial aviation that your attitude is consequently over-simplified/naive.“

You are telling me I am removed from reality of commercial aviation because my belief is that one needs to be awake and aware of their surroundings when flying? Tell this to your pax then: “Sorry guys I got to catch a quickie nap since them next door guests in my hotel room were too rowdy last night. I’m tired and the plane is going to fly itself for a time. No worry I’ll wake up for landing. Co-pilot is standing by in case,,,”.

See how warm this announcement is received. Oh, you do not announce it? Why not? Do not want to make anyone nervous?

As far as your reasons for becoming a pilot, Anthony: I think you might have assumed too much. Maybe you were the one who is/was naïve. Every job comes with responsibility. There should be pride in everyone of us to be able to say: “ I am good in what I do because I love it” ----- not --- “I am good in getting away with no-no’s and have my bills paid”. What is that cliché again?? Oh yea, “I’m a pilot, it beats working for a living…”

Piloting is not all glory. Bet you know it by now. I learned the hard way myself.

Plain Truth.
You are mistaken. From the very first post I have been aware this was 2-crew flight.

Still,,, no excuse for sleeping while on duty.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 11:15
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Arrow

Many good postings here so far with a lots of valid points. In our company we have a lot of night flights, with sign in times of around 3am in the morning. It is sometimes punishing!

Personally I doubt a bit, though, that a pilot from a small airline, flying Twin Otters between Bahamas and Florida, will suffer from cumulative fatigue in such a way, some of you described here (and absolutely correctly, like, let's say flying night charter at peak season).

We don't know the facts. His sleeping problems could have been the cause from something completely different. Maybe he has a medical problem and was on medication? Or Narcolepsy? I know a person who can fall asleep in a blink...

Kinsman I am pretty sure, the FAA will look into this, if they haven't done it already.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 12:48
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If I see an FO nodding off in the cruise I tell him to put his head back and take twenty minutes rest – and if I’m feeling drowsy, I’ll do the same myself after checking that the FO’s feeling OK.

I don’t actually get to sleep doing this, but putting the head back for even five minutes to refresh yourself in the cruise if far more sensible than sitting there jerking your head up repeatedly attempting to stay awake as I used to have to do as an FO with ‘old school’ captains. My thinking is that I’d rather have the guy (and myself) awake for the descent and landing than exhausted after eight hours from trying to ‘keep alert’(!) in the cruise.

To those like ‘jet noseover’ expressing outrage at the thought of one pilot resting in the cruise, can I ask if they’ve ever flown long haul? If you object to this on the grounds of reduced safety, how do you feel about one pilot leaving the flight deck in the cruise to use the toilet? Is this too an unacceptable reduction in flight safety?
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 14:23
  #51 (permalink)  
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Lightbulb Egg-timer enlightenment

From PlaneTruth

Wake up call: A Scandinavian airline installed timers in the overhead panel years ago so the crew would not nap past a predetermined time.

After the Scandinavians sold those aircraft off I acquired 8000 hrs in them. With the long range navs showing 1700+ miles to destination the seat would be reclined for a controlled snooze putting the overhead with its egg timer into view. Often wondered about the true purpose of the timer as I drifted, looking at it, into the land of nod. We all honestly thought it was primarily to prevent the engineer running a tank dry while balancing out the fuel packages. Now I(we) know; thanks for the information.

Fatigue is accumulative, it takes time to both develop and recuperate from with the only certainty when operating under its influence being that sleep won't necessarily occur at the time or place of choice. Due to the nature of the beast all pilots occasionally fly when they're tired and a 'controlled snooze at cruise' is preferable to a micro blackout of REM sleep on final. Sleeping is as fundamental to the human condition as breathing. To deny sleep in a safe environment when it's sorely needed goes against common sense and good CRM.

jet_noseover .
Attitude check: Your head would seem to be fully inserted.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 14:43
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I cannot agree with anything that 'noseover is saying. He says that he found out the hard way for himself, does that mean that he has long haul experience. From what he writes I doupt so very much.

I believe that in most airlines it is now most acceptable and actively encouraged by management that pilots rest at appropriate times during a flight. There is no reduction in safety by doing this and it has been proven that a rest before a high work load actually increases perfomance.

On my F/D when either of us is resting I get one of the cabin crew up to make sure that the other stays awake. Personally 20 mins an hour before ToD into Europe in the early hours does it for me.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 15:06
  #53 (permalink)  
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Wiley
I am not expressing any outrage. I am saying it’s not safe, appropriate, professional, etc. Nor it does any good to the industry advertising that dozing off is a common thing while working. Pax do not always know what it takes to get them from point A to Z. They trust us completely with their safety since we are in control or supposed to be. They see captain sleeping, they panic. Why do you think this “tape”/pictures were taken if it’s so common pilots sleep while on duty?
Why did he resign before the investigation?

I want to think there is pride in us to perform to the standards expected other than weasel "any which way you can” because you might get away with it.

XL5
Before you check on my attitude… take a trip with your loved ones in the bus driven by folks who nap at the controls. No difference.


Report back if alive.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 15:12
  #54 (permalink)  
Anthony Carn
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Wiley - careful ! Mentioning that pilots need to go to the loo during flight will get jet_noseover into another little tizz !

"Pilots have bodily functions ? Disgraceful. Going to the loo during flight is a definite no-no !"



.......................or should that be a definite doo-doo ?
 
Old 20th Jul 2003, 15:20
  #55 (permalink)  
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Anthony Carn



Not sure why the hostility. I have no problem with pilots using the loo. As long as they are awake and do not pee in their pants is fine with me.
Lighten up. I am not your enemy.




Happen to be brought up as an idealist...
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 17:17
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Wink

Jet-noseover

I guess you just said it all you are and idealist you don’t live in the real world!

Jet-noseover is probably a good name for you as if your view on fatigue is genuine and not a complete windup then that is about the attitude you will find yourself in after a series of long duties.

It's basic CRM, knowing your limits and those of your crew and then managing the flight deck accordingly to ensure a safe operation!
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 19:26
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Keep in mind the general public are brought up to believe the person in the LHS is the only person flying the plane.

Anybody in the RHS must be there to steady the cups of coffee when you hit cat!
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 19:35
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Jet noseover - I'm also in serious disagreement with you sunshine. Have you done many 9 hour westbounds, leaving at midnight, so that the flight is in the dark the entire way ?? No matter how hard you try, and even if you've slept well before report, the eyelids sag. Controlled rest is very effective for making you more alert for the last important 200 miles of the trip.

How can you compare travelling by bus - single driver, no autopilot, no cabin crew - to travelling by air with two pilots, fully automated flight-deck and cc part of whose job it is to give us a call every so often to make sure we're still alive and one of us is awake whilst the other takes 45 minutes kip...
I have to say that you are actually talking out of your ar$e - no offence but try to realise what long haul flying is all about.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 22:57
  #59 (permalink)  

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It doesn't have to be long haul. I found that repeated early starts over many weeks (ie 4am wake up) will definitely lead to fatigue and a very high risk of falling asleep at the controls. I was handflying a C207 doing scenics. I wasn't the only one to be suffering from fatigue either.
No automatics, no co-pilot, no aircon, plenty of sunshine..... just not enough sleep because of the cumulative effects of lack of sleep.

I don't know the captains' previous roster. If he's tired then there's a reason.
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Old 20th Jul 2003, 23:24
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JN-O

Have to disagree too old boy. You talk about napping being unprofessional. I would argue that controlled napping is exactly the opposite - an acknowledgement by two professionals that there is a problem and some corrective action being taken that is timely and considered.

You ask why the pax aren't informed. Well they aren't informed about lots of operational issues/ actions and decisions. Do you announce on the pa that you are going to set autobrake level 3 instead of 2 today because the conditions are a little bit worse than normal? Do you inform them that 1500' of runway is not useable due notam? Do you tell them that you are going to do a full power take off due to that brake line being capped off? I could go on. It's all about professionalism and not upsetting passengers with issues that they do not have all the information available to make a reasoned judgement on. That's what they trust us to do.

Now I do not condone falling asleep 'and feeling proud about being able to get away with it' which is what you imply and I do not know the facts behind this incident, perhaps the guy fell asleep and got caught, but perhaps there was a flight safety issue where he was a victim as well. Good airlines have taken large steps in improving flight safety by having 'no blame' cultures, which enables us all to learn from our 'inevitable' mistakes. So unless you never make ANY mistakes JN-O I think you should reasses your opinion. One day you will not be on top form in the cruise, but I suspect you will take the unprofessional approach of keeping it quiet. Don't dribble though as it is a dead giveaway!

PP
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