Sleep deprivation

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  1. #1
    Rosstafari's Avatar
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    Sleep deprivation

    I was interviewed today on a morning radio show for KABC in LA. Ostensibly the interview was about my trip on JetBlue, but we talked more about swine flu and pilot sleep schedules than anything else. I guess the show's doing a special tomorrow on how much sleep commercial pilots have been getting. Or haven't, as it were.

    I felt like the host was implying that pilots are choosing to not get enough sleep, which is obviously not true -- the airlines are the ones who set the schedules and work you guys to death. But when that happens, what can you do about it? Anything? Have you ever had to step up and say, no, I can't fly on such a small amount of sleep? I know that there are federally mandated limits, but I also know that they're not always followed.
    Pan pan?

  2. #2
    Cheeks's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    I have never called in fatigued but at many airlines, many pilots are afraid of disciplinary action if they do so. After the Colgan crash in Buffalo, the airline I flew for has put fatigue calls under the ASAP program which is like NASA reports for airline pilots. This now protects crews from disciplinary action and allows the FAA to study reports of fatigue.

    I will say from my own experience, it isn't always how much rest time you are given, but scheduling that conflicts with your body's clock and natural sleep patterns. For instance, I remember one trip where one night we ended late, had minimum rest of 8 hours then a short flight into the hub and a then a short flight out of the hub to Toronto. I made it to the hotel in downtown Toronto in time to still get McDonalds breakfast. I had the whole day in Toronto but had a show time at the airport of something like 4:30 am the next day. While I was waiting in the lobby for the airport van there were girls walking in just getting back from the bars. I can't just force myself to go to sleep at 7pm regardless of how much "rest" time I was given. I nodded off a few times on that flight that morning.

  3. #3
    Rosstafari's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    I remember reading or hearing recently that, with some limitations, the non-flying pilot(s) can nap in the cockpit. That true? I honestly can't remember the context, whether it was transcontinental with backup pilots or if they meant domestically, and I know that rest periods are provided in the former instance.
    Pan pan?

  4. #4
    marklar84's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    How did they pick you for an interview? I wanna be interviewed! LOL

    Well, as far as sleeping. The CA and FO are NEVER allowed to sleep while in the air, ever. Some international flights have 1 or even 2 "relief" pilots. The crew takes turns LEAVING the flight controls and resting/napping either in first class or the crew bunk beds while the relief pilots sit at the controls, awake. I know the next question of everyone from a non airline pilot background. "Are the backup pilots as qualified as the regular pilots???" Everyone asks that...
    YES, they are simply less senior than the "regular" pilots and that is why they were assigned "relief". They could actually have more flight time (total or in type), but in the airlines it ALL about senority.

    One final point while I'm ranting about experience: Both the CA and FO are trained and held to the SAME EXACT training standards and we both receive the SAME EXACT training. The only difference is the CA has to demostrate a "circle to land" approach in the sim (which they dont teach because its so easy)....thats the ONLY difference in training. How hard is a circle approach, really??

  5. #5
    Rosstafari's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    Quote Originally Posted by marklar84 View Post
    One final point while I'm ranting about experience: Both the CA and FO are trained and held to the SAME EXACT training standards and we both receive the SAME EXACT training. The only difference is the CA has to demostrate a "circle to land" approach in the sim (which they dont teach because its so easy)....thats the ONLY difference in training. How hard is a circle approach, really??
    Really? I was under the impression it was a combination of seniority and hours in type.
    Pan pan?

  6. #6
    marklar84's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosstafari View Post
    Really? I was under the impression it was a combination of seniority and hours in type.
    No, everything is based on seniority. everything, I dont really like it, but thats how it is. Pay, equipment, seat (CA or FO), flight schedule, 401k contribution, vacation time, vacation allotment, sick time allotment..etc. Pay is based solely on years at company. It does not matter at all that pilot A has 1000 hours and that pilot B has 15,000 hours flight time....they would make the same if they were hired in the same class. Airlines only give hiring preference to experience...after that its all seniority.

    As for your example. If pilot A had just switched equipment from the 737 to the 777, he would have very few hours in the 777, but if his senority (hire date) is higher than pilot B who has been on the 777 for 10 years and has 8000 in the 777, pilot A (with 100 hours in the 777) would the "regular pilot." confused?? (sorry)

    If you can not tell yet, I dislike very much the seniority system. I wish everything were merrit and performance based.

  7. #7
    RdRunnr12's Avatar
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  8. #8
    Rosstafari's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep deprivation

    Quote Originally Posted by marklar84 View Post
    If you can not tell yet, I dislike very much the seniority system. I wish everything were merrit and performance based.
    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the union would never, never let that happen, regardless of how good of an idea it may be. That true?
    Pan pan?

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