If you've been watching the news lately, one hot topic is mentioned at least once an hour: Pilot Fatigue.
This is an issue I actually never gave much thought. I, like many people in the world, assumed that proper restrictions were currently in place to keep plane crashes from occuring from preventable circumstances... you know.. like the pilot FALLING ASLEEP! Apparently, I was wrong.
This article on CNN's webiste says,
In the last 16 years, fatigue has been associated with 250 fatalities in air carrier accidents, Robert Sumwalt, NTSB vice chairman, said at an FAA symposium in July.Well, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Now the FAA is said to be trying to change the current allowed flight hours and the required amount of resting time between flights in hopes of preventing things like this happening in the future. Seeing as how they regulations have remained the same since the 1940's... I say it's well past due.
One request I've heard mentioned by the people in the airline biz is to simply allow pilots to nap in the cockpit during flights. Now, don't freak out... the truth is, pilots are already sleeping during your flight and you just don't know it. (according to about 80% of pilots that admit to sleeping during flights.) Wouldn't it be better to simply put safety policies in place so that this much needed sleep can occur SAFELY?
Other than take-off and touch-down... pilots say that the rest of the flight is almost always simply auto-pilot. If there are two pilots in charge.. why not let them take turns getting some Zzz's? If it means safer landings after 8 hours in the air... I say YES!
If letting them rest on the plane isn't a valid option, what other options are there?