Saturday, October 24, 2009

When Your Pilots Fall Asleep.

Hantu Laut

Have you ever wondered what those guys in the cockpit up front are up to? Your life is in their hands and you depended on them bringing you back safely to the ground.

Over the years the airline industry have discovered pilots breaking fundamental rules of their profession, from being caught with high level of alcohol in their blood, falling asleep on the job, to emotional breakdown during flight, endangering the lives of their passengers.
Small wonder most air crashes were due to human errors.

Some years ago when I was a frequent flyer (as a passenger)I get acquainted with people from the airlines.One day, at Bangkok airport I happened to bump into a friend who was a co-pilot with an airline (I will not name the airline) had coffee with him and the story he told me was quite shocking and one of many horror stories that we passengers wouldn't get to know because the airline usually hushed up such story, bad publicity for the airline.

He told me his aircraft has to turn back to Bangkok airport after 20 minutes flight due to technical problem reported by the captain and the technical problem was not with the aircraft, it was with the guy. He just had a big fight with his wife when she discovered he was screwing one of the stewardesses and situation became even more unbearable for him because the girl he was screwing was on the same flight with him and the wife apparently knew it. Luckily, for the passengers,
rather than taking a flyer, he had the sense to sense his disturbed state of mind that could interfere with his ability to fly the aircraft safely.

Read the article below on the subject of pilots falling asleep during flight.

Northwest's Wayward Flight: Did the Pilots Fall Asleep?

In typical, understated aviation lingo, the pilots of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 suffered a "loss of situational awareness" on Oct. 21 when their plane shot past its destination, Minneapolis, and continued flying for another 150 miles. After the flight from San Diego with 149 people aboard spent some 78 minutes out of contact with air-traffic control — a period that reportedly ended only when a concerned flight attendant contacted the pilots by intercom — the plane turned around over Wisconsin and landed safely. The pilots told authorities they were discussing "airline policy" during their odd detour, though many observers believe a more plausible explanation is that they simply fell asleep at the controls. An analysis of the plane's cockpit recorder should reveal what was happening up front, but if the speculation is right, it wouldn't be the first time a pair of pilots have dozed off.
(See TIME's airline covers.)

In February 2008, a Go! Airlines flight from Honolulu overshot the airport in Hilo, Hawaii, and continued for some 30 miles over the Pacific Ocean before circling back. The captain originally said they had entered the wrong air-traffic-control frequency, but both pilots later admitted they had fallen asleep. A contributing factor to the incident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), was the captain's undiagnosed sleep apnea, which authorities call a growing cause of transportation accidents.

A respiratory condition that interrupts breathing at night, sleep apnea can lead people to be fatigued even after a full night's sleep. "They feel tired and sleepy when they wake up in the morning," says Dr. Vahid Mohsenin, director of the Yale Center for Sleep Medicine at Yale University. "I've seen a lot of patients that had several car crashes before they were diagnosed. They were related to sleepiness at the wheel." Sleep apnea is linked to age and obesity; as the population grows older and puts on pounds, the incidence of sleep apnea rises, Mohsenin says. According to one report, sleep apnea diagnoses have increased twelvefold since the 1990s.
(Read "E.U. Pilots Fight for Shorter Shifts.") Read more


FMZam said...

The frequent flyers have no choice, they can only stomach all stories about air crash and just hope for the best, if it is not the pilot, it's the plane that will eventually kill the passengers, leave alone all other reasons for an aircraft to crash.

In the history of aviation, no amount of good pilots and best aircrafts can make any passenger feels secured travelling in a flying coffin until it has landed safely on the tarmac to be called an aircraft.

We have many pilots and many aircrafts. And we have many old pilots and old aircrafts. But we have not even any right to take flight with which pilot and which aircraft to only make us feel confident to fly, not yet to feel safe.

And even if all pilots are young and all aircrafts are new, we still have to think of fate. That fate is when the pilots are human and the aircrafts are man-made.

The only different about air crash is when there are survivors who will always tell the good pilot is the one that managed his aircraft well in the moment of crisis.

I mean to say when most pilots, young and old, are well trained in flying, they are lacking like hell in the training of disaster crisis management.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia Kini reported another potential case of pilots sleeping on the job...

Anonymous said...


Most jetliners nowadays are on autopilot after take-off, unless it is on very short haul flight.

In this case it has to be on autopilot, otherwise the plane would have strayed from its flight path. If its on auto pilot then the alarm will be buzzing.

Plus, the control tower would have contacted the plane. So, what gives?

Also, post-911, once commercial planes strayed from its flight path, the air force and national gauards will scramble their fighters to intercept.

There a lot more unanswered questions to this issue.

Pilots bonking stewerdess? As normal as Doctors bonking the nurses. Plumber/Milkman bonking housewifes... another day in office lah.

MRSM Kalae Chepo 66/73

P/s on 747 KL-London direct flight, there will definitely be sleeping pilots, as there are two crew sets ;-)