My pet peeve...


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I do. Kind of like sports. There's always some un-athletic guy talking crap about quarterbacks when he can't even throw a football or make it through a practice session without oxygen himself.


Well-Known Member
I just laugh at people like that.

When you coming down to the 'mecca of ladies land', errrrrr I mean Austin?


Well-Known Member
As soon as my lady's sister starts school in October, we'll be making plans to come down!!!! You "keeping Austin weird?"


Former Maddog Whisperer
Here's the article in question if you have not seen it. It's from the WSJ and is one of the better pilot fatigue articles I've read. My appologies if it has been posted elsewhere.

Pilot Fatigue Spurs
Calls for New Safeguards
September 12, 2008; Page A1

Safety experts and regulators have long been concerned about the dangers of exhausted, overworked or downright sleepy pilots. But the problem is intensifying as financially strapped airlines try to squeeze more productivity out of pilots, who by most measures are logging more hours per month and flying more grueling schedules than at any time since 2001.

Many big airlines with new labor contracts bargained in bankruptcy -- or under threat of it -- have many pilots flying up to an extra 10 or 15 hours each month, closer to the 100-hour maximum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. That's in addition to layovers and time spent on ground duties.

Sidebar: Fighting Pilot FatigueFlight schedules that look manageable on paper often don't account for storms, air-traffic congestion or other potential delays that can make a long work day longer. In July, according to the latest government statistics, 19 U.S. airlines saw one quarter of all their flights, on average, arrive late by more than 15 minutes. And pilots say certain airlines schedule flight times at or just under eight hours -- the FAA-mandated limit that a pilot can be behind the controls per day -- on trans-Atlantic routes that regularly run longer, so they don't have to pay for an extra pilot.

Now, pilots and safety experts are stepping up pressure on the FAA to rewrite rest and scheduling regulations that basically haven't been updated since the 1960s. Critics say the rules don't reflect the current flying reality, and are based on outdated science that ignores the latest sleep research showing the cumulative impact of inadequate rest. At a hearing earlier this year, several National Transportation Safety Board members and staffers expressed concern that the U.S. was in danger of falling behind other countries in combating pilot fatigue.

After working more than 12 hours in a row -- inside and out of the cockpit -- error rates shoot up, complacency increases and communications become impaired, says Peter Demitry, a former test pilot and fatigue expert who consults for pilot groups. One symptom of fatigue that scientists are now studying is "micro sleep," when pilots become unresponsive for a few seconds or a minute, though their eyes are open.

The NTSB identifies tired pilots as one of its 10 "Most Wanted" safety improvements, linking at least 10 U.S. airliner accidents and 260 fatalities to fatigue since 1990. Hundreds more close calls have been reported to pilot unions and confidential federal safety databases over the years. Fatigue-related mistakes have included pilots forgetting to extend flaps before takeoff, inadvertently shutting down engines in midair, and losing track of a plane's position on final approach. In several cases, crew members have nodded off at the controls.

Airline officials say their own internal programs help counter fatigue and allow pilots to stop flying if they feel unsafe. And overall, jetliner accidents in the U.S. are at historically low levels, with the last crash of a wide-body jet occurring nearly seven years ago. New rules "have to be based on conclusive research, not anecdotal evidence," says David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade group for major carriers. "You shouldn't change regulations simply because there are times airplanes run late" and pilots end up working longer than anticipated.

But critics say new regulations are necessary to prevent incidents like one that unfolded in February. A flight operated by commuter carrier Go!, en route from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, encountered a serious problem as it flew over Maui: Both pilots were fast asleep.

Cruising at 21,000 feet with 40 passengers aboard a Bombardier regional jet shortly before 10 a.m., the pilots for 18 minutes failed to respond to frantic calls from air-traffic controllers. The jet overshot its destination, crossed the big island of Hawaii and headed southeast over the Pacific. After traveling 26 nautical miles beyond its destination, the flight crew finally responded, reversed course and landed safely, according to the NTSB.

No official report has yet been released on the incident. In a letter urging the FAA and the airlines to more closely monitor pilot fatigue, the safety board said the pilots, who had been on duty four and a half hours that morning, "were on the third day of a trip schedule that involved repeated early start times and demanding sequences of numerous short flight segments." The letter concluded the pilots -- who no longer work for the airline -- "unintentionally fell asleep."

Go!, a division of Mesa Air Group Inc., is cooperating with the safety board's investigation. The company declined to comment on the incident, and hasn't identified the two pilots.

Pretending to Sleep

Pilots say short commuter hops are often more tiring than long hauls. Schedules can entail half a dozen legs in a single day, sometimes requiring planes to go up and down in storms that aircraft on longer routes are able to avoid. Since many commuter flights shuttle between hubs and outlying airports, they tend to run late and start early. That means crews can end up with short layovers in the middle of the night.

The routine can become "take a shower, brush your teeth, pretend you slept," says Tom Wychor, an 18-year veteran of Mesaba Aviation Inc., a wholly owned regional unit of Northwest Airlines Corp. Mr. Wychor recalls, in the early 1990s, nodding off on approach to the Houghton, Mich., airport in snow and fog.

"I was bathed in sweat and scared to death," when the runway suddenly appeared, he says. Mr. Wychor had started early three days in a row, and flown numerous 15-minute hops between Houghton and Marquette, Mich. Mesaba declined to comment for this article.

When Mesa pilots reach a destination late at night, they often want to nap before climbing back into the cockpit for an early morning departure. But for crews on the ground four hours or less, Mesa won't pay for hotel rooms.

'Camping Trip'

Pilots "call it a 'camping trip,'" says Kevin Wilson, a captain and union chief for the 1,400 pilots at Mesa, which flies for UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. He says pilots will sometimes curl up on a chair in the terminal "or sleep on the plane; I've done it once myself." The same crews then fly up to three more legs before calling it quits and getting their mandatory rest period.

Such punishing schedules are legal under FAA regulations. Michael Lotz, Mesa's president and chief operating officer, says the carrier complies with all collective-bargaining agreements, and its pilots can be scheduled to fly "as many legs" as the FAA allows.

"I've heard anecdotal stories" of pilots sleeping on planes between flights, he says. "We don't track that."

With this segment growing -- regional airlines now carry one in four U.S. passengers and operate half the country's scheduled flights -- fatigue issues are coming into the spotlight. Peggy Gilligan, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for safety, recently suggested the most taxing commuter airline schedules may be reassessed. "This may be another area where we need to pay more attention," she said in an interview. Years ago, the agency pledged to establish a single level of safety for large and small airliners.

Airlines say they'd prefer to negotiate with their unions to set acceptable work limits rather than having Washington-imposed solutions. Fatigue "isn't a tremendous issue" for the 2,000 pilots at Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which owns three commuter carriers, according to Wayne Heller, chief operating officer, adding that the airline's work rules are stricter than the FAA's. "If we have fatigue," he says, "it's due to unplanned circumstances" outside the company's control.

The FAA, reluctant to impose additional financial burdens on the ailing industry, has hesitated to rewrite fatigue-prevention rules. But regulators acknowledge that fatigue in the cockpit is a significant threat. In an interview, former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey calls pilot scheduling disputes "the third rail of aviation safety regulation." And in June, the agency convened a comprehensive fatigue forum for the first time, gathering international airline officials, human-factors experts and sleep researchers. FAA officials say they intend to evaluate material presented in the sessions.

Foreign airlines and regulators have broken new ground in recent years by taking multiple factors into account when setting work limits for pilots. For example, pilots who fly numerous short legs or have so-called "backside of the clock" schedules -- requiring them to stay up all night or cross multiple time zones -- generally stop working sooner and are guaranteed more rest between trips than those following less demanding timetables.

The FAA allows all airline pilots eight hours of scheduled time behind the controls per day, and up to 16 hours of total duty time, which includes wait time at airports between flights. The agency allows up to 30 hours of flight time weekly and up to 100 hours monthly.

But pilots complain there are no explicit limits for overall hours of duty per week. And while most airlines schedule longer overnight layovers than Mesa, and will reserve hotel rooms for their pilots, ground duties combined with travel to and from hotels can reduce time available for actual shut eye.

Stalled Sleep Talks

The FAA's attempts to update its fatigue rules date back to the mid-1990s, when the agency proposed a wholesale revision of pilot scheduling limits. The goal was to ensure a 36-hour period of consecutive rest each week in addition to daily rest periods. (Currently, the agency mandates eight consecutive hours of rest in any 24-hour period.) To placate airlines, the proposal also sought to increase maximum daily flight hours behind the controls to 10 hours from eight hours. That would allow carriers to use a single crew to fly round-trip transcontinental runs the same day. But after heated debate, the FAA in 1996 jettisoned the package and later compromise attempts failed.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks made it virtually impossible to advocate far-reaching safety initiatives, according to current and former FAA officials. Traffic plummeted and the industry, fighting for survival, was shedding pilots and aircraft at a breakneck pace. Like many pilot-union leaders, the agency shifted its emphasis to security matters.

Once the industry started to recover financially about three years ago, business and government couldn't agree on what changes to pursue. Advances in cockpit automation and onboard safety-warning systems were supposed to provide extra protections against human slipups. New routes spanning huge expanses of the Pacific drew more attention to fatigue issues on ultra-long haul flights.

In April 2008, safety board member Steven Chealander told Congress that "little or no action has been taken" by the FAA to grapple with fatigue, and agency officials "have not indicated any firm plans" to improve their track record. That's in dramatic contrast to enhanced fatigue-prevention measures developed for operators of trucks, trains and ships in the U.S.

Two months later, the NTSB reiterated calls to fight chronic fatigue after it was found to be a factor in last year's nonfatal crash of a Pinnacle Airlines Corp. commuter jet. The safety board determined that the captain, making his fifth landing on a short airstrip that day, had been working for 14 hours in mostly bad weather. Landing on a snowy Michigan runway, he failed to heed various warnings and didn't perform basic calculations before the plane careened off the strip. The captain "absolutely made some poor decisions," says Michael Garvin, Pinnacle's vice president of flight operations. The pilot couldn't be located for comment.

Some airlines have struck independent deals with regulators to modify their pilots' schedules. The FAA and Delta, for example, at the end of 2006, signed an agreement authorizing pilots to fly longer than normal shifts on certain non-stop trips between the U.S. and India. Lasting 16 or 17 hours one way, such ultra-long flights pose formidable fatigue issues. The deal includes extra precautions such as extended rest periods for cockpit crews before leaving the U.S., and two full days off in India prior to the return leg. The FAA's Ms. Gilligan said at the time that the voluntary pact was "a very good example of what we are going to do" with subsequent requests.

Frustrated by what they say are unreasonably long shifts on certain domestic and transatlantic routes, pilots at AMR Corp.'s American Airlines recently delivered a report to the FAA and the NTSB documenting individual flights that consistently take longer than scheduled. On selected trips from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport -- which normally operate with two pilots -- scheduled trip durations of eight hours or less were exceeded more than half the time, say pilots. If the FAA determines American isn't adhering to "realistic" scheduling rules, those flights would have to carry an extra reserve pilot.

FAA officials declined to comment on the matter. An American spokesman said the company projects months ahead to "set realistic schedules about what out real flying time could be," factoring in historical trends, prevailing winds, aircraft types, specific airport operations and other variables. The airline has previously disputed pilot data on flight times.

Write to Andy Pasztor at and Susan Carey at