Tag Archives: Colgan Air Flight 3407

“This Is Your Captain Sleeping” – Yet Another Cause for Sleepy Pilots

In an infamous incident in 2008, 2 airline pilots fell asleep at the controls resulting in the plane overflying the destination. They were found later  to have suffered from OSA (see my posting at that time here ). But now it appears that in the US, a more common malady has been found that can cause pilots to be sleepy when on duty…the Crash Pad Syndrome.

Continental flight 3407, which crashed 2 years ago and killed 50, was attributed to sleep fatigue - both pilots slept in crew-rooms instead of proper beds.

Crew lounges such as this in La Guardia airport provide pilots with rest relief which may be inadequate

 

It turns out that most US airlines domestic pilots are quite lowly paid (I’m told USD 20,000 a year) that they cannot afford a proper hotel-room for a good night’s sleep before reporting for duty as such rooms are not provided for by their employers for a flight from home-base. ABC News a few days ago revealed that these pilots would either ‘rest’ in crew-rooms which do not have beds and are not designed for a good night’s sleep; or resort to what are called crash-pads.

The crash-pads are extremely popular and are found near busy airports where their existence is kept a secret to the public. At US$25 a night, it offers affordable accommodation especially in expensive cities like New York.

This Crash-Pad in La Guardia comprise of triple-bunk beds at $25 a night and are available 24/7

Pilots need to bring your own pillow-cases,sheets and towels as there is a rapid turnover.(ABC News)

FAA, the body which regulates US pilots, maintains at least an 8-hour mandatory rest period and a working day that should not exceed 16 hours. Sleep is recommended in  rooms which are dark,  cool in temperature, and where there is no intrusive noise. Whether these crash-pads can fulfill these criteria is doubtful and may create significant pilot fatigue. Fatigue results in a decreased ability to maintain function or workload due to mental or physical stress (like inadequate sleep). This in turn causes inability to concentrate and impaired reaction times, both essential when operating an airplane.

As a passenger, I get the shivers when I see a pilot yawning  when reporting for duty..

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