American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
November 9th, 2009
06:05 AM ET

Nap time for pilots?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/09/faa.gi.art.jpg caption="An FAA-assembled advisory committee has recommended that the FAA endorse "controlled cockpit napping.""]

By Allan Chernoff
CNN Sr. Correspondent

"This is your pilot speaking. It's time for my nap."

While you won't hear that announcement, next year it could be exactly what's happening in the cockpit of your flight at 35,000 feet!

A Federal Aviation Administration-assembled advisory committee, representing airlines and pilots, has written to the administration, to "recommend that the FAA endorse controlled cockpit napping." A "controlled nap" would last for no more than 40-minutes to prevent pilots from falling into a deep sleep.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is now considering the Aviation Rulemaking Committee's recommendation, as he searches for ways to address the problem of pilot fatigue. For 19 years fatigue has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's "Most Wanted" list of urgent safety issues that need to be addressed.

Watch: Cockpit napping endorsed Video

"It is beyond overdue. It is needed right now. We can't wait another year," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.

NASA studied the idea of pilot naps at its Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California 20-years ago. The Fatigue Countermeasures Group, known within NASA as the "Z Team", found flight deck naps to be effective and safe in reducing pilot fatigue.

"The FAA paid for that research and we've shown very clearly the nap really improved performance and alertness of the flight crews," said Curt Graeber, who led the "Z Team" of scientists and is now a fellow of the Flight Safety Foundation.

"The most risky part of the flight, in terms of safety, is the approach and landing. So we want crews to be well rested and alert on the approach and landing. The idea of a controlled rest in the flight deck helps make that happen – it's a safeguard," said Graeber.

Indeed some foreign carriers, including British Air and Air Canada, permit pilots to nap on longer flights, allowing one pilot to rest in the cockpit, while the other pilot mans the controls.

"The irony is that these studies were paid for by the U.S. taxpayer and they were adopted by airlines worldwide, except in the United States," said Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University.

(Foreign and domestic airlines have bunks available for pilots to sleep – not nap – during ultra-long flights that carry three or four-man crews to destinations like the Far East.)

Some U.S. pilots fear airline managers could use a napping-in-the cockpit rule to justify longer flight schedules for pilots.

"A pilot could be pushed to work when he's really not comfortable going to work," said Captain James Ray, a 25-year veteran of U.S. Airways. "It's not a substitute for 8-hours of sleep."

In fact, the Aviation Rulemaking Committee is recommending the FAA allow pilots to fly more consecutive hours during daytime – to increase the current 8-hour limit. In return, airlines would reduce the hours pilots have to be on-duty from the current 16-hour maximum, to offer more opportunity for a full sleep.

"The existing rules are really inadequate, said Doug Pinion, an American Airlines pilot who sat on the Aviation Rulemaking Committee. "I don't think most people who are in any position to judge alertness think it would make sense to have a pilot on duty for 15, 16 hours."

The NTSB says fatigue has caused numerous accidents and, in the case of a Mesa Airlines flight to Hilo, Hawaii, in February of 2008, caused both pilots to fall asleep and travel 26 miles past their destination.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, a former Eastern Airlines pilot, has put the issue of pilot fatigue on the fast track. He and his staff are evaluating the advisory committee recommendations, and intend to issue new proposed regulations by the end of the year.

"Pilot fatigue is one of Administrator Babbitt's top safety issues," said FAA spokesperson Alison Duquette. "Everyone involved in the process is committed to getting the rule out as quickly as possible."


Filed under: Airline safety
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Sean Broadbent

    November 28th, 2009 1:35 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    The recent event with the pilot out of MSP is obvious to any seasoned pilot that these pilots were asleep. This was most likely as a result of fatigue, the primary thing the industry refuses to recognize. This is rampant in our industry with short rest and long duty days mixed in with schedules designed to maximize personell utilization in order to save on increase the bottom line. Before we all go after these already overworked fellows, lets examine what led to this then we can have an educated discussion about how to prevent this from happening again. In case the non pilot professionals out there are not aware, FAR Part 121 carriers use the following rest, duty and flight times; must have a block of 24 consecutive hours off duty within a 7 day period (6 day work week) maximum 16 hour duty day, maximum 8 hours flying in a 24 hour period, required minimum crew rest of 8 hours which begins when the brake is set and chocks are placed on the wheels and ends at show time to the airport. This rest time does not take into consideration transportation to hotel or to one's home which could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Take into account that FAR part 121 pilots are just like everybody else in that they need time to wind down after working for 16 hours and flying for 8 hours within those 16 hours of duty. They are legal to do this for 6 days in a row. If the average person did this, how do you think they would function in an office environment, or in a construction job operating heavy equipment. Now consider this, the industry has accepted this for decades and this is what the american public relies upon to safely transport themselves accross our nation and accross the oceans. Yet, we still hear about accidents and fatigue is one of the largest contributing factors. We all want $69,00 One Way tickets from NY-LA and to pay for it, we use crews until they drop from exhaustion. Think about this the next time you board a 7 AM Departure out of LGA or BOS. Think about those guys up front and if they had a good rest last night. Did they have 16 hour days for the last 5 days and is this day 6 of another 16 hour day? Food for thought. Why do European Crews only have a 12 hour duty day? Most likely because it is the "Civilized" thing to do.

    November 28, 2009 at 1:37 am |
  2. JT Banks

    It might be a good idea to have a third pilot, maybe a junior grade in training, monitor the pilots as they fly. The junior flight officer could pick up valuable training while keeping the pilots from napping simultaneously.

    If the Junior pilot cannot fit in the cockpit, he should have direct communications to the cockpit from the passenger area or flight attendant seats.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  3. Mike S

    Some people seem to believe it's the pilots responsibility to be well rested. Wake up people! (no Pun intended). I am not a pilot but pilots overwhelmingly are concerned about the way they are scheduled. Management is simply pushing the envelope until a direct corelation between their scheduling practices and disater are identified. They can't profit without the current scheduling practice. Personally, I would pay more for my ticket to remedy this situation (if it actually would) These guys are underpaid in their early years. It's a miserable beginning after working so hard to get there.

    November 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  4. Michael

    IDK, I have never flowed a plane. I would think the logical thing to do would be to ask pilots. However before we rush into anything, we need to have a well thought out plan, and look to see what other countries have as policies since they already allow this.

    November 9, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  5. Bill

    Getting rest ahead of time is not all that easy. As an airline captain that has flown all over the world your body resists time zone changes. The worst trip I've ever flown is Delhi-Chicago (14-16 hours, all dark in December). Have you ever tried to go to sleep at 6pm at your home? It doesn't work because of Circadian Rhythm, or the sleep pattern your body is used to. If you are in London, their midnight is your body's 6pm (if you live in Chicago). You have to go to the airport at 7am London time, which is 1 am body time. Just before pickup time, you're just getting into a deep sleep and then it is interupted. So you may end up only getting 2 hours of fitful sleep. You try to stay awake in the cockpit, but sometimes your body just takes over and you doze. Typically though, you always check to see how the other pilot is feeling. Maybe he or she was able to sleep and is better rested than you. If not, then both of you struggle and that's when you have the case of both pilots falling asleep. The body just can't take it. Companies can give us more time off at layovers to recover from sleep deprevation, but it costs them and since your ticket is so price sensitive, they won't do it, even after an accident. The small planes (commuters, ie. Buffalo) are notorius for paying so little that sometimes pilots have to have additional emploment to be able to support a family. I remember a time when the brown truck driver delivering packages made more money than the college educated ex-military pilot flying their planes. But pay is another issue.

    November 9, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  6. Rick Chisholm

    I worked as pilot for Eastern Air Lines for 29 years, 21 as Captain. The average family man gets up early to have breakfast with the kids and see them off to school. He then does the chores of the day and goes to work in the evening already fatigued. A nap is in order before getting into the higher stress phase of approach and landing.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  7. william cooley

    i know pilots and i understand the difference in take off and landing levels of fatigue. let the f.a.a. install cameras in random short to long flight airplane cockpits to get a quick take on how the pilots get to spend their time. that'll fix it

    November 9, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  8. Captain James Ray

    If the FAA would reduce a pilots work rules which allow us to be on duty for 16 hours, with just an 8 hour break (not sleep. a typical 8 hour break may yield 5 hours of sleep if we're lucky), then we would not need to be addressing controlled napping. Pilot fatigue has been on the NTSB's Top 10 Most Wanted list since it's inception. It has been attributed to 260 deaths since 1990, including the ones in the Continental Crash in Buffalo earlier this year. DOT studies say that after being on duty for 16 hours, our cognative skills and decision making ability are comparable to someone who is legally drunk! Yet it is permissable under todays regulations.

    Our fear with allowing controlled napping is the airline managements of some of our airlines would push pilots to fly while fatigued, telling them to just take a nap. What if they can't?

    Napping should never be used to increase a pilots work day. The NASA study that Allan spoke about said in it's closing paragraph that, "a nap is just a short-term fix, offering a temporary boost in mental acuity, but there is no substitute for 8 hours of recovery sleep."

    Our Safety Committee believe the most important thing would be for the FAA to set a reasonable work day that would allow pilots to get the sleep they need to be at their best.

    Captain James Ray
    US Airline Pilots Association

    November 9, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  9. Kris Esp

    Why not allow pilots to nap. The FAA has allowed airlines to continually increase pilots duty days and add more flight hours with shorter rest periods. The FAA even allows airlines to include transit time (to and from hotels) as part of a pilots rest period. Pilots must be scheduled for at least 8 hours rest in a 24 hr period, but when you consider that transit time is included in that 8 hours, actual rest is usually only 6 hours or less depending on the distance between the hotel and airport. Also flight schedules and rest periods don't consider circadian rhythm whose constant disruption has been shown to have more effect on quality of sleep than the length of time at rest. Very few emergencies happen in the cruise phase of flight. Why not use that time to recharge.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  10. Carl Cook

    I thought that the idea of having two pilots on duty was to have 4 eyes and two brains available in case of an emergency or lapse of judgment by one of them. It seems to me that on flights of up to 8 hours or so especially in busy corridors, that we as passengers should expect them to be awake and alert. It should be the pilot's responsibility to be well rested and alert for a flight, just as it is the responsibility of a factory worker operating powerful machinery to be alert and safety conscious for his workday. If flights are longer than one can be expected to be alert, than perhaps a third pilot should be required to be available on the flight to ensure the safety of redundancy, which is why we have two pilots in the first place!

    November 9, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  11. Kevin Zanella

    Pilots being able to take a nap in the Cockpit is long over due, And the tone of CNN is Pre-historic. I am an ATPL Pilot. Currently instructing Pilots around the world. Most Airlines through out the world permit a nap in the cockpit. You need to remember that a pilot's duty day can be as long as 17 hours per day, six days a week. True the Flying is only 8 hours per day in the air. The same as their pay, only when the wheels are up. the pay for a starting co-Pilot on a boeing 777 to Europe or Asia is only $ 1,800.00 per month before taxes. They are not allowed to collect their food stamps in Uniform either. And they are not allowed to talk to the media or risk loosing their job. You need to do your homework and find out why the Pilots are so tired. It is the long hours on the job. It is being called during your rest at 03:00 am to be told your departure time is 15 minutes later. The FAA permits this call. Company says it is mandatory that the Pilots know this change in their schedule. you wonder why a pilot is so tired on day six? The pilot could have been at work for 17 hours per day. 8 hours of rest per night. Oh, and that rest started 15 minutes after the airplane door opened. The eight hours ends when the door closes. That is not bed rest. That is 8 hours plane to plane. So please tell me how well you function at less than 20 thousand a year in pay. 17 hours per day at work, 6 days a week. and 8 hours of rest at night. Plane to Plane not bed. You the news CNN need to get this information to the public.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  12. Bill Truax

    As a former nuclear plant operator and manager I can't believe our government would support sleeping on the job. The goverment (Nuclear regulatory Commission) enacted strict anti-fatique regulations on private industry just this year. Security companys have been fined for gaurds at Nuclear plants found sleeping while they were on permitted breaks in Break Rooms during there shifts. Nuclear Power Plant Operators, supervisors, and workers all are regulated to control fatique. How can we feel pilots who have the immedite lives of hundreds in their hands should be treated any different?
    Bill
    Forked River NJ

    November 9, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  13. Eleanor Courtrayer

    If pilots are well rested before reporting to work they will not need to take a nap. The idea of a pilot taking a nap while in the cockpit is scary, what happens if the pilot flying the plane gets a heart attack and slumps over the controls, who will be there to assist him/her and fly the plane? Not the second pilot because he is taking a NAP!!!!!

    November 9, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  14. Naps area a good idea

    But as was evident with the latest "laptop" incident, relying on your co-pilot to remain awake is faulty. Bracelet monitors that transmit heart rate and body temperature should be worn by the pilots to ensure at least one pilot is awake. If both monitors fail (both pilots are asleep, dead, or not present), an alarm should go off in the cockpit, as well as an automated ground communication for a proactive health-check. This would also provide active warnings in case of health issues, problems, or negligence.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  15. mr.keith

    I am a commercial pilot and I can tell you that we nap "every day" in the cockpit!
    Given the already very stringent schedules with multiple circadian clock changes, this is a necessity.
    If the NTSB really wants to address pilot fatigue they would restrict multiple circadium rythm swaps during a multiple-day trip for pilots!

    Next, the NTSB should scrutinize the "van schedules" for pilot and crew overnights. Frequently a very long van ride to the hotel and back to the airport for overnights is quite lengthy and this is considered rest time for crews.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  16. allen morris

    I am a retired commercial pilot of 36 years and I just had a book published , entitled, The Rogue Aviator by autjhor Ace Abbott and one of the principle themes of this non-fiction book is the issue of pilt fatigueand its effect on aviation safety. The author readily admits to spending nearly 3,000 hours of cockpit flight time in the "power-nap mode."
    This book cites numerous incidents of severe pilot fatigueand the FAA,s failure to address this problem. If you would care for further comments, I can be reached at armflog3@aol.com or (c) 561-302-1308. Pilot fatigue has often been a contributing factor in aircraft accidents and incidents and will continue to do so unless this problem is seriojusly addressed by the FAA and the aviation community. Sincerely yours, Allen Morris

    November 9, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  17. ronvan

    Depends on how the final "guidance/rules" are written. While pilots are "in charge" and hold the passengers safety in their hands I still question the actions of the rest of the crew in this incident. Are you telling me that they did not know when the plane was suppossed to land, length of flight, etc.? What did they do to get the pilots attention? I do not remember anything being said about that! Are pilots "locked" in the cockpit with NO access at all? How do they go to the bathroom, or get a drink or food? If a pilot is going to take a "quick nap" why not bring one of the flight crew in to help monitor things. NOT FLYING, just another pair of eyes, looking around? Why not install some kind of "loud warning, a sirene, etc,, in the pilots area that one of the flight crew could hit if they thought something was wrong?

    November 9, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  18. Sergio Howard

    Wow......I get in "hot water" if I nap in my cubicle and I'm only three stories up ...not 35,000 feet. Whatever happened to scheduling of flight duty and pre flight rest. I guess we don't have to react to turbulence, wind shear or stalls anymore. I think I'll take the train next time. OOPS did they ban texting.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  19. karen

    Should your surgical team be allowed to take turns napping during a long surgery? Your life is in their hands as well. Things can take a turn for the worst in an instant. I do not believe while awaken from a nap you are as sharp and alert. Isn't this why pilots have layovers and limits on how long they can fly?

    November 9, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  20. Mary

    I don't think pilots should be allowed nap time while in flight.
    If 16 hours is too long, why don't they work shorter hours, like 12 hours? If on call is the problem, maybe that should be adjusted.
    I am a nurse and worked 12 hours and many times 16 hours that wasn't prescheduled. We were never allowed to nap!
    If you can't handle it, you shouldn't be a pilot. There are too many
    lives in your hands.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  21. Hiawatha

    Pilots can fly up to 8 hours a day, which is considered a normal work day. One would think, 'I work 8 hours none stop, I don't need a nap and neither does a pilot.' Problem is airline flight crews have 15 1/2-16 hour duty days. Of those hours, they are only allowed to fly 8 hours. The rest of that time could be sitting around the airport/airplane on a delay, scheduled sit time etc. Which is exhausting, I should know because I'm a flight attendant. I've had days when we have to be at the airport at 5:30am and not finish flying until well after 5:30pm. I'm all for them taking a nap if it means safety!

    November 9, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  22. Mike S

    One of my concerns would be a catastrophic event occurring at cruise altitude. When seconds count, it would take quite a few seconds for a napping crew member to come up to speed with the situation. It could make the difference between getting out of the event successfully or a complete disaster.

    It does make perfect sense in order to be in top shape for approach and landing though. Tough call for me. Good thing I don't work in the industry. As a passenger though I would approve. Odds of cruise altitude failure are pretty slim.

    Someone mentioned "What would have happened if Sully was napping when in the birds took out his engines???? " Wow I would hope he wouldn't be napping during takeoff. Now that would be something!

    November 9, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  23. Al

    Is it safer to let the planes keep crashing and people keep dieing? Should we just use our heads and fix it with something as a NAP!
    It dosen't take a PHD to add up 2+2.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  24. 4change

    I think it would be better if the pilots were given a gas to help them sleep for two hours before each flight and given a smellin sauce to help them wake after two hour nap to ensure the ability to fly.

    November 9, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  25. Scott Clifton

    Absolutely NOT!

    There's a reason the FAA mandates Co-Pilot required operations. This is a compromise of our safety. As a pilot myself, I prefer the FAA stand by its rules; Its track record regarding this is a good enough justification to not make any changes.

    If any changes need be made, Pilots should start getting the mandated 8 hours of sleep and plan accordingly for their routes. Airlines should also better support the pilots scheduling to prevent these issues from occuring.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  26. Tom Kluge

    Controlled Rest in the flight deck is allowed at my Airline. There is a strict set of rules to follow and procedures are established to guard against both pilots being asleep. This only works on longer flight segments and would not have helped the Continental Flight.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  27. Winse

    Pilots should not be allowed to sleep on the job, due to a real possibility of the other pilot falling asleep. Just like any other job, pilot should use there flight schedule to plan there sleep before they show up for work.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  28. Jim

    Wow... wish I could take a nap at work!

    They should be regulated like Truck Drivers are, not just "allowed to sleep on the job".

    Absolutely rediculous.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  29. Rene Kerr

    Of course they should be allowed to take a nap. Just not all at the same time!!

    November 9, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  30. Matt

    Assuming there are appropriate audible alarms and flight crew checks in the event both pilots fall asleep, I wouldn't have an issue with it.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  31. Neil

    Pilots should have the option of in flight Nap . It is essential in increasing awareness and reducing accidents caused by human factor mistakes .

    November 9, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  32. Karen

    In regards to the Fort Hood massacre:
    I am so tired of citizens who are so concerned that we as a nation do not offend individuals at the very risk of allowing those people to murder our own patriots.
    Do we want to tree hug this group of people so much that we allow them to instill fear and death in every state of our country?
    My family came from Sweden, they entered this country legally, they followed the rules of our country and they served our military. They learned our native language and asked for no free handouts. There was no free ride. Tell the bleeding deacons to move them into their homes with their children then see how they will feel.
    I would risk a little of our freedoms, (which we do after 9-11 anyway) to insure my family is not shot down in cold blood, as my child serves now in the army.
    Let the muslims go back to Iran as that is the hub of it all anyway.
    I am sick of our spineless backbone
    Ashamed to be an american

    November 9, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  33. JEZEBEL58

    To Joseph Mori,yes in third world countries people do nap but this is a plane being piloted with people on board.This is a NO NO for sure,yes the time change affects a lot of people like myself but that's no excuse.What happens if the pilots are heavy sleepers that it would take more than an alarm clock to awake them,this is so proposterous and unbelievable that a question like this is asked.Those two pilots who were distracted because they were using their Laptops said it all,if they could not hear anything from the ATC what makes anyone think that taking a nap up would be any better.I don't even nap on planes because at times there are turbulances.

    November 9, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  34. BillaBong

    It definitely depends. I am a military transport pilot who has had occasion to fly several weeks in a row with eighteen hour crew days, fifteen on the ground for rest in a tent city, to turn around and do it again. Flying time depended upon how much time we spent on the ground at each stop but the critical piece was that our body clocks were all out of whack. On the long stretches we had to sleep at altitude so that we were competent during the approach and landing. My technique for staying awake was to think scary thoughts to squeeze adrenalin into my system for a short term boost. My scariest approach was at the end of this two week stretch into a field with no surrounding lights at night, manually flying the aircraft, silence on short final, dark in the cockpit, all the while struggling against sleep. At some point on short final while struggling against the need for sleep I could feel myself nod off and fortunately there was some adrenalin left. I'm lucky to be here writing to you. Nap during flight? That's an extreme case. I was in my early thirties and in good physical condition, but so was my crew and we were beat. We'd state positively who would be off headset and the rest of the flight deck would continue performing crew duties until it was their turn. Commercially, we've got pilots on call and since they do not know exactly when they'll be called, there's no way to calculate their sleep cycles. As long as the airlines don't force the pilots into more time requirements based upon the decision to allow it, I'd say it should be coordinated within the flight crew and the operations center while the flight is at cruise altitude as an exception, not the rule. Check out, check in.

    November 9, 2009 at 7:28 am |
  35. Charles Woodward

    Pilots should absolutely not be able to nap. I don't even nap on planes just in case something bad happens. I want to be ready in bad situations, and pilots should be as well.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:57 am |
  36. Eric Ainsworth

    I have never been a pilot, however I was a conductor for a major railroad. Long hours, sleeping in hotel beds, and time changes fatigue the body greatly. Naps are allowed so long as the train is stopped and one crew member remains awake. Napping is highly effective practice and allows crew members to remain alert in critical times during a any given trip. I fly 5-10 times a year and fully support allowing pilots to nap during flight. The problem I see is that in rare cases, pilots are not awake during highly critical times – such as landing. The goal of proposed regulation changes should not be preventing pilots from napping, but implementing systems which require pilots to be awake during critical times of flight. "Alerters" are commonplace in the railroad industry, the technology is obviously available and should be implemented in the airline industry.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:54 am |
  37. Chuck LaClair

    Pilot fatigue is a major issue. When driving my car long distances and my "co-pilot" in the front seat is taking a nap and snoring it makes it tough for me to stay awake. Not having someone to talk to makes me drowsy. Perhaps pilots could do like I do to stay awake..... Just turn up the Radio, and roll down the window... Works for me!

    November 9, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  38. Tammy

    I can't believe this is even a consideration. Pilots should not be allowed to take a nap while flyiing. They have hundreds of people's lives in their hands and need to be fully alert for any situation that may arise in a moments notice. What would have happened if Sully was napping when in the birds took out his engines???? Why don't they hire more pilots and let these guys rest?

    November 9, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  39. Jane

    No, NO, NO! They are flying a huge aircraft with hundreds of lives in their care. The airlines need to be sure pilots are well rested and ready to perform the task they are taking on.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  40. JT Banks

    Have pilots ever heard of this really cool invention called an Alarm Clock!?

    November 9, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  41. Joseph Mori

    As long as 1 pilot is alert, the other should be allowed to take a power nap. It is not a substitution for a good nights sleep but in most 3rd world countries people do take naps in the afternoon for an hour or two.

    You do wake up feeling more alert. and if an emergency arises, the pilot can be waken up right away.

    Especially when many flights may run for more than 10 hours, it is unreasonable to have them stay awake the entire time and be expected to be at 100%. The nap allows them to recharge a little and be more alert.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  42. sam r

    Conditional napping in the cockpit on long trips is an absolute must. If I were a passenger on a flight from US to Europe, I would feel better knowing that the pilots are rested at the critical time of landing.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  43. Johnny Jones

    The idea of pilots "power napping" during flight has abuse written all over it. Pretty soon airlines will add an even more grueling flight regiment to the pilots assuming that "well, they can just grab a nap during the flight". This is a small bandage solution which doesn't come close to solving the problem.

    November 9, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  44. Shawn

    That's a great idea! While they're at it, They should allow me to put on the cruise control while im in my car so i can take a nap to!

    November 9, 2009 at 6:42 am |