DreamsUnited
Topic Author
Posts: 239
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2006 2:44 pm

Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:07 pm

Hi all,

I know this must have been discussed before but I can't seem to find any threads on the topic.

I am curious about how the FAA may implement procedures to fend off pilot fatigue, the aspect I am interested in is the FAA allowing controlled naps for flight crews who are on duty (of course not both pilots)? From what I had read previously is that they already allow this in Europe, if this is true is it successful? I have also heard that the Air Force has a similar policy as Europe (but I cannot confirm this) restricting naps to 20 minutes so one does not enter into rem sleep.

I am looking for insight and if possible statistics or research that has been conducted on controlled naps. Or maybe even personal experience.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks all!

[Edited 2010-12-02 14:07:57]
Do not abort a takeoff because a cockpit window pops open!
 
lowrider
Posts: 2542
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 3:09 am

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:40 pm

It may not be officially condoned but it happens. It is my opinion that if one pilot is going to check his eyelids for holes, he should set some sort of alarm so that, in the worst case scenerio, if everyone in the cockpit falls asleep, it will only be for a limited time.

These naps, however, merely treat the symptoms of pilot fatigue, and not the causes. They are a band aid approach at best.
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Fly2HMO
Posts: 7207
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:14 pm

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:20 pm

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 1):
They are a band aid approach at best.

Agreed. Ideally pilots should come in fully rested, thus hopefully eliminating the need to take a nap.

I will say though, I recently got to jumpseat on a late night flight in a respectable airline that shall not be mentioned, where the captain dozed off for a good 30 mins, while the FO and I talked about random stuff. It was their last leg for the day and it was understandable. I never felt like the safety was ever compromised, then again there were still 2 pairs of fully awake eyes in the cockpit.   

[Edited 2010-12-02 15:20:53]
 
ArmitageShanks
Posts: 3736
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 5:30 am

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:07 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):
Agreed. Ideally pilots should come in fully rested, thus hopefully eliminating the need to take a nap.

I think its as much to do with your attentiveness and involvement with your environment as it is adequate rest. Idle and bored brains get sleepy very fast.

I work 12-13 hour shifts and I'm often more sluggish physically and mentally in the mornings and more energetic and enthusiastic the last two hours even continuing many hours after I get home.

I can't even count the times I've fallen asleep, in the morning after a full nights sleep, at work/home/etc because I'm in an environment that encourages it. Sitting in a dark cockpit with a steady stream of white noise would be a very easy place to nap.

[Edited 2010-12-02 17:09:56]
 
Fly2HMO
Posts: 7207
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:14 pm

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:45 am

Quoting ArmitageShanks (Reply 3):

I think its as much to do with your attentiveness and involvement with your environment as it is adequate rest. Idle and bored brains get sleepy very fast.

A good point. Planes are so automated nowadays there's generally little to do in cruise... until something goes wrong of course.

[Edited 2010-12-02 17:45:40]
 
tdscanuck
Posts: 8572
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:25 am

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:13 am

Quoting DreamsUnited (Thread starter):
I am looking for insight and if possible statistics or research that has been conducted on controlled naps. Or maybe even personal experience.

I used to work in a different industry where we were on 24/7 call and you worked until the job was done...could be an hour, could be 24+ (36 hours was my personal worst). We were trained in a whole bunch of techniques for managing and mitigating circadian rhythm and fatigue issues, including planned naps. There are lots of sleep studies out there on this stuff. We always kept it less than 45 minutes to avoid going into REM, or else 90+ to have a decent chance of being out of it.

Lots of late night/early morning trips to/from base were made considerably safer by a simple 15-20 minute nap.

Tom.

[Edited 2010-12-02 19:14:34]
 
ArmitageShanks
Posts: 3736
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 5:30 am

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:22 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 4):
A good point. Planes are so automated nowadays there's generally little to do in cruise... until something goes wrong of course

I don't think it really has much to do with too much or too little automation. Its more of a "comfortable and repetitive environment" that induces the complacency in me- and I suspect its the same with most.

I've never experienced severe fatigue while flying but with my extremely limited experience with non-autopilot single engine planes, some of which had no radios, navs, etc, in a cruise situation I can see how it can bring on the boredom and monotony that precedes unwanted naps. I've taken a few solo flights and while cruising for over an hour or so at a relatively "boring" moments and I've thought to myself "Wow, I'm here alone. Just me. I need to stay alert!" Maybe that made me a bad pilot.

[Edited 2010-12-02 19:36:14]
 
goboeing
Posts: 2428
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 5:31 am

RE: Fighting Pilot Fatigue With Naps

Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:46 am

The human body does not care what the idiots at the top level of the FAA think about fatigue. The body does not care about lobbyists stretching safety enhancements out by years and years to save money for the airlines.

All the body wants to do is get rest when it is tired. At some point, it will be tired enough that the person will not be able to keep themselves awake and bouts of microsleep will ensue. This will not be prevented by coffee, conversation, day, or darkness. It will just happen.

In anticipation of that possibility, it would be reckless and careless for any pilot to not take a 10-40 minute nap in cruise flight after having informed the other pilot of the plan.

Coming down final approach to OVC002 RVR1800 BLSN with braking action reported fair to poor by an airport ops truck twenty minutes prior is no place to have either pilot feeling groggy. If a nap an hour or two prior at FL380 would improve their mental capacity on arrival, then it needs to happen.

This is science we're talking about. These things have been researched and proven decades ago yet the FAA has done nothing. They set the example by ignoring facts that are safety issues and ignoring countless recommendations by the NTSB after their investigators are pulling human bones out of a smoking hole in the ground after a crash made more likely by pilot fatigue.

If this is their example, if ignoring reality is their modus operandi, then they probably shouldn't be surprised if there were people out there that took it upon themselves to ignore the FAA in the name of safety.

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