The survey revealed aircraft pilots did not get enough sleep before the flight


One in four pilots received less than five hours of sleep a day before entering the cockpit for long-haul flights, an alarming Australian report about pilot fatigue was found.

A survey of 625 pilots by the Australian Safety Safety Bureau (ATSB) focused on how many pilots took breaks before controlling domestic, international, charter and aeromedical flights.

It was found that while most pilots received adequate rest, many did not – and sleeping less than five hours could be associated with impaired performance on flights.

About 10 percent of pilots said they slept less than five hours a day before the flight, and 17 percent said they slept less than 12 hours for the previous two days.

"This threshold of sleep has been shown to be associated with performance disruptions," said the report.

The report found sleep deprivation on duty was more of a problem between international and domestic pilots.

About a third said they got as much sleep on duty as they did at home, while around 15 percent of international pilots said they "did not rest" during their last international flight.

Domestic pilots reported that they felt the rest period was too short and the duty time was too long.

They also said that access to food while on duty could be more difficult than other pilots.

Also of concern is that about one in three pilots said they had escaped from duty at least once in the past year, mostly between one and three days, due to fatigue – but felt that the action had left a negative impression with management, and they did not feel comfortable do it.

The report said the responsibility of managing the risk of fatigue was shared between pilots and their employers.

"It is important for operators to implement policies to reduce the possibility of fatigue-related problems through rostering practices and by providing an organizational culture where crews can report fatigue in a supportive environment," ATSB said.

"The results of this study indicate that operating in conditions conducive to fatigue is a continuing challenge for the proportion of Australian air transport pilots."

The survey ignored important questions – how many pilots were sleeping in the middle of the flight, the director of safety and technical of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Shane Loney told Australia.

"I have seen those who asked directly to a group of 250 to 300 pilots and it was almost shocking to see how many people raised their hands," he said.

"What's worse is the strange occurrence when you have two pilots who accidentally fall asleep.

"This happens more often than we imagine."

But with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in the process of drafting new fatigue risk management rules, Mr Loney said the survey results came at a good time.

"When you get 30 percent of long-distance pilots who report less than 12 hours of sleep in 48 hours, that is a sleep debt that you collect enough," he told Australia.

"This shows this CASA is real. That is not something dreamed of by pilots from several clear industries. "


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