Packed British jet left on autopilot as both pilots fall asleep

2013-09-26 08:51

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London - Two pilots recently fell asleep at the controls of a packed British Airbus A330.

A Daily Mail report shows the incident came to light in a freedom of information request on the number of times pilots had fallen asleep on British planes in the last year.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson said he doubted any form of disciplinary action would be taken.

By law, airline bosses must report any potentially dangerous conduct to the industry regulator. The airline involved has not been named as the the freedom of information request is done anonymously to encourage incidents to be reported, with the aim being to learn from the situation. The CAA said it would be best for the airline to revise its roster or shift system, following the incident.

In another recent incident, low-cost Dutch airlineTransavia initiated a probe after one of its pilots was locked out of the cockpit mid-flight after his co-pilot fell asleep.

It took place on a Boeing 737 flight to Crete in Greece and was made public by the Dutch safety board (OVV) in a quarterly report published on its website. The body called it a "serious" incident.

The problem of fatigue among pilots is believed to be widespread. A British pilots union study shows that 45% of pilots surveyed had suffered from "significant fatigue", 20% believe their performance is compromised at least once a week and many feel they cannot talk about being tired fear of being punished.

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