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SierraHotel

Packed passenger plane was left flying on autopilot after BOTH pilots fell asleep in the cockpit!

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A packed passenger jet heading to the UK was left flying on autopilot when both pilots fell asleep at the controls, it emerged last night.

The terrifying incident happened last month on board an Airbus A330 operated by a British-based airline - but officials are refusing to name the company involved.

The pilots - who had apparently slept for just five hours each over the previous two nights - are not expected to face serious disciplinary action over the incident, which highlights the danger of fatigue on flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority revealed that the incident took place on August 13 shortly after the 325-seat plane had taken off, when the pilot and co-pilot agreed to take turn having short naps, leaving the plane on auto-pilot.

However, one of them woke up to discover that they had both been asleep at the same time, and did not know how long the plane had been unsupervised.

The pilots voluntarily reported the blunder to the CAA, which has hidden the name of the airline they work for in a bid to encourage other whistleblowers to speak out.

A spokesman for the regulator said: ‘I would be very surprised if any disciplinary action had been taken against these pilots.

 

‘Perhaps the airline in question may have looked at their rosta or shift system as a result.

‘In potentially critical safety situations like this, we aim to learn from what happened and ensure it will not happen again.’

He added: 'We don't know why the pilots had had so little sleep before this flight. They were taking it in turn to have rest periods, with the one always checking the autopilot and it looks as if both fell asleep at the same time.'


By law, airline bosses must report any potentially dangerous conduct to the industry regulator.

Virgin Atlantic, which operates a fleet of 10 A330 planes, refused to comment on whether or not the flight last month was a Virgin service.

A spokesman for the company said: 'Virgin Atlantic does not comment on reports released by the CAA as part of its confidential reporting system - the aim of which is to contribute to flight safety through sharing of information within the industry.

'Safety and security is the primary concern of Virgin Atlantic and matters such as these are taken extremely seriously by all airlines.'

Spokesmen for Thomas Cook Airlines and Monarch Airways, which each have three A330s, said that the plane involved did not belong to them.


Pilots' union Balpa said that it had repeatedly warned the CAA about the dangers of pilots feeling overly tired, and accused the regulator of being 'complacent' about the problem.

General secretary Jim McAuslan said: 'British pilots want to make every flight a safe flight and tiredness is the biggest challenge they face.

'As the regulator responsible for UK flight safety the CAA has been far too complacent about the levels of tiredness among British pilots and failing to acknowledge the scale of the underreported problem.'

The problem of fatigue among pilots was revealed in a study by Balpa which showed that 45 per cent of the pilots surveyed had suffered from ‘significant fatigue’.

The figures revealed that about 20 per cent of pilots believe their performance is ‘compromised’ more than once a week.

Many pilots said they now have to fly more than regulation hours to deal with the volume of flights on offer from airlines.

Records show that two cockpit crew members fell asleep during a long-haul flight in 2011. One of the pilots was asleep for ten minutes while his co-pilot slept during his break.

In another case in 2012, a pilot was unable to gain entry to the cockpit and, after using an entry code to access the cockpit, found his first officer was asleep.

While nearly all such cases are resolved without any danger, fatigue has been blamed for high-profile aviation accidents in the past.

The pilot of an Air France flight which plunged into the ocean in 2009, killing all 228 people on board, had only one hour's sleep the night before, it emerged this year.


Rob Hunter, the head of safety at the British Airlines Pilots’ Association, told the Transport Select Committee last year that often pilots don’t complain about being tired because they are worried about being punished.

Balpa claims that new EU regulations on pilots' working hours set to be voted on next week could increase the risk of similar incidents by tiring out workers.

Pilots will be able to land an aircraft after going 22 hours without sleep, fly long-haul flights with fewer crew members and operate early-morning flights up to seven days in a row.

The union says the changes will 'increase tiredness among pilots and the risk of dangerous incidents'.

However, the CAA said today: 'We understand that Balpa are not happy with the proposals but we think overall it is a good package and not much different to what we have now.'

 


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Thomas Cook have 325 seats  :blink:


JD

"Nobody has ever seen me and Batman in a room together at the same time, I'm just saying."

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Nobody would have known unless the pilots had reported it themselves. They could have just said there was a problem with the radio and they never heard ATC etc

 

What a bunch of plonkers

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AKA the Daily Wail. :smile:

 

Also know by some as the Daily Heil...heh, heh.

 

It would never have happened if Diana were here.

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Nobody would have known unless the pilots had reported it themselves. They could have just said there was a problem with the radio and they never heard ATC etc

 

What a bunch of plonkers

Who are you calling plonkers? The pilots who used the anonymous reporting system for the exact purpose it is intended, i.e. to allow people to come forward and report dangerous situations or incidents without fear of punishment?

Pilot fatigue is something pilot's unions have been complaining about for a while, and if these unions are to be believed the new EASA rules will make things worse.


John-Alan Pascoe

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Who are you calling plonkers? The pilots who used the anonymous reporting system for the exact purpose it is intended, i.e. to allow people to come forward and report dangerous situations or incidents without fear of punishment?

Pilot fatigue is something pilot's unions have been complaining about for a while, and if these unions are to be believed the new EASA rules will make things worse.

 

If I don't feel well enough or alert enough to drive my car, which I need to do my job, then I don't drive. If I have been out working all the previous day, some of the night, early hours and then some of the morning then I go home. If my company want me to go elsewhere that day they get a big no from me....not that they would request that anyway as it breaches UK Health and Safety laws not to mention road traffic regulations. Safety comes first.

 

The pilots, if they did not have enough sleep and being as experienced as they are to know if they have had enough rest or not, should not have taken the risk to fly, stated to their boss BEFORE boarding the craft that they were not in a fit state to work and let their boss sort it out.

 

They get no appreciation from me for reporting it 'anonymously'. The very fact that they took the aircraft into air risking the lives of people on board the aircraft and on ground means they are indeed plonkers.

 

If I caused a crash in my car because I was tired and killed a family travelling in another vehicle would that make it OK because I was doing something my company had asked/told me to do?

 

If airline safety is a big concern, as it must be due to all the anti-terrorist measures that have needlessly been put into place, then any pilot must be completely free of any reprisal for speaking out if he/she is not fit enough to pilot the aircraft due to the airlines heavy workload for that pilot. Any airline that punishes said pilot should not be allowed to maintain a fleet/licence and publicly named so that passengers can avoid.

If the pilot can prove that he/she is being overworked by a demanding rota then it is for the airline company to resolve. Not board the aircraft and fly just because they are told to.

If the pilot is tired because he/she was up late in the casino/on the ale then that is their fault and they should be disciplined but they should still not take the aircraft into the air. Surely an airline pilot wants to land safely back on the ground and not risk their own life regardless of anyone elses?

 

Isn't that what safety is all about?

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Fair points, can agree with you on that. I thought you were calling them plonkers for 'turning themselves in' (as it were) rather than hushing it up.


John-Alan Pascoe

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Hi.

 

SierraHotel, are you a journalist for the Daily Mail?

 

verbatim:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432847/Both-pilots-asleep-cockpit-packed-plane-dont-worry-autopilot.html

 

Cheers,

D

Fair point. The OP should be careful of that little thing called "copyright infringement." The risk may be low, but Avsim would also be well advised to either delete the post or have the OP provide the appropriate attribution.

 

Damn lawyers.

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The Daily Mail won't sue him .......... they'll award a harsher and more painful penalty than a financial one;  they'll force a years subscription on him! :lol:

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The Daily Mail won't sue him .......... they'll award a harsher and more painful penalty than a financial one;  they'll force a years subscription on him! :lol:

 

They'll hire him as their 'aviation editor' praising his 'journalism' based on his post above....not realising its from their own paper.

 

Daily Mail=Daily Fail :lol:

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