Half of British pilots admit to falling asleep in cockpit
LONDON (REUTERS) - More than half of British airline pilots say they have fallen asleep in the cockpit, according to a survey ahead of an EU vote on flying hours a pilots' association says may compromise flight safety.
According to the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa), 56 per cent of 500 commercial pilots admitted to being asleep while on the flight deck and, of those, nearly one in three said they had woken up to find their co-pilot also asleep.
Pilot exhaustion grabbed the headlines this week when a newspaper reported two pilots on a British long-haul flight fell asleep in the cockpit, leaving the packed jet travelling unsupervised on autopilot. The survey, released by Balpa, came ahead of a vote in the European Parliament on Monday on new rules that could replace British regulations.
Balpa, a trade union for pilots, voiced concerns that these proposed changes would water down British safety standards. The rule changes would mean that pilots could work a maximum of 110 hours in a two-week period, more than the 95-hour limit under British regulations, and at night could be expected to fly for up to 11 hours, against a current 10-hour limit.