How confident would you be if you boarded a plane and the pilot announced he was going to take a cat-nap while you were in the air? Would you believe a recent study in England found fifty-six percent of pilots interviewed admitted they nap, or sleep, at the “wheel” of the plane? Another shocking fact uncovered was twenty-nine percent admitted they had woken up from sleeping to find their copilot asleep as well. More than three-quarters of the pilots questioned felt their pilot abilities had been negatively affected by sleepiness in the past six months.
NASA/FAA Study on Pilots Sleeping at the Wheel
While these statistics may seem alarming, NASA/FAA conducted a study which showed improved alertness when a pilot took a planned, short, in-flight nap with the copilot awake and responsible. The FAA does not consider this sleeping strategy as legal, but they accept that pilots do benefit from a short sleeping time in air on long flights.
Small, private planes typically only have one pilot; therefore, a cat-nap is not an option. Unfortunately, many aviation accidents can be attributed to an overly tired pilot.
Problems Arise When Both Pilots Doze at the Wheel
Most pilots who fly long flights or work long shifts firmly believe a ten-to-fifteen minute nap helps their focus as long as they can trust their copilot to stay alert. The obvious problems arise when both pilots fall asleep at the same time. The question remains on how to ensure the copilot doesn’t get caught sleeping while the other pilot is sleeping.
Tampa Aviation Accident Attorney
Many accidents in small planes and commercial planes can be traced back to a pilot, or two, sleeping at the wheel. If you or someone you love has become a victim in an aviation accident, you need to contact Bryan Caulfield to understand your legal options. As an experienced aviation accident attorney, Caulfield can answer your questions and help you recover the damages you are owed. Contact our firm today.