Two pilots of commercial airlines fell asleep during flights over London between June 2010 and June 2011 according to data released this week following a Freedom of Information Act request, returning the issue of pilot fatigue and sleep deprivation into the spotlight. However, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) claims that the real number of incidents is actually way in excess of the released statistics, and that pilots are falling asleep in the cockpit on a daily basis.
Pilot fatigue hit the headlines last week when it was found that the captain of Air France Flight 447, which fatally crashed after taking off from Rio de Janeiro in 2009, was working after a night’s sleep of just one hour.
The US FAA introduced new rules on pilot working hours in 2011 specifically to reduce the risk of fatigue, in response to safety concerns that included fatal accidents.
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