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Rose Siding Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 10:35 PM
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Pilot fatigue grows as problem for airlines
As the industry's finances worsen, pilots fret about falling asleep at the controls as flying hours get longer.
NEW YORK - The nation's top airlines are still wallowing in red ink, and their pilots are tired - some literally exhausted.

Or so says Jane Meher. That's not her real name. As a pilot who's not a union official, she says she's forbidden by contract to talk to the press. Still, she was concerned enough about what she sees as a deteriorating safety standard that she came forward. And so did others.

"Every pilot I talk to feels like they're being pushed to the limit," says Captain Meher. "It hasn't created a problem yet, but it could."

Fatigue has long been one of the top problems on the list of "Most Wanted Safety Fixes" from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Since the 2001 recession and Sept. 11 plunged the major airlines into a financial sinkhole, pilots say the fatigue problem has gotten steadily worse. And it's reaching a nadir during this summer's peak travel season, with airline staffing pared down and more Americans returning to the skies.
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LastLiberal in PalmSprings Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 11:05 PM
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1. This happened in the Military Airlift Command
where crews would be out for 10 days with maximum duty and minimum ground rest. We lost three perfectly good C-141 cargo jets to crew fatigue; in each case the crew either descended into the ground or flew into a mountain. In one case, the crew was within an hour of their home base when ATC looked at a different aircraft and called out the MAC call sigh when giving the instruction. With three pilots and two navigators, there should have been at least one crew member who questioned the directions from air traffic control.

The mechanics of today's jets are so reliable that the one weakness is the mental state of the pilot. If he's having marital or financial problems, getting a divorce or just plain worn out, he's a bigger risk than the airplane itself.
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