Everybody knows that fatigued driving is bad – because nobody wants a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.
But what about fatigued flying? An incident in May 2022 highlighted an ongoing problem with exhausted pilots and the danger they pose.
The plane had two pilots – and both were asleep
Let’s be clear: When there are two pilots on board on a long flight, it’s not unusual for either to take scheduled nap breaks. The problem with this flight is that by the time it was 38,000 feet above France, both pilots were asleep. Since air traffic controllers were unable to get any response from the cockpit, they were in the process of rallying fighter jets to intercept the plane when one of the pilots eventually woke up.
It’s hard to dismiss this as an isolated incident when you look back at a 2013 survey of commercial pilots where 56% admitted that they’d fallen asleep unexpectedly in the cockpit – and 29% woke up to find their copilots asleep, as well.
Bear in mind that a pilot doesn’t have to actually fall asleep to cause a catastrophe. Fatigue can cause a pilot to make foolish mistakes, overlook warning signs of danger or just take chances that they shouldn’t. They may also have slowed reaction times that could affect everything from how well they manage problems mid-air to an issue on the runway. Coffee is no substitute for actual sleep, and many pilots today are being pressed into service for hours on end to meet consumer demands.
If you have suffered catastrophic losses because a fatigued pilot was at the helm of your plane, find out more about what it takes to hold those liable responsible.