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.
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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 here..