Pilots falling asleep on the job is far more common than you might expect. In one British Airline Pilots Association’s survey of 500 commercial pilots, 56 percent admitted to having fallen asleep on the flight deck. Twenty-nine percent had woken up to find the other pilot asleep. Eighty-four percent said they believed their abilities had been compromised by tiredness in the past six months.
While this might seem like unacceptable behavior, it is also very common. Here in the U.S., the FAA does not legally allow pilots to nap in the cockpit, but they have acknowledged they understand the value of catching a cat nap. In fact, a NASA/FAA study demonstrated the effectiveness of a brief in-flight nap in improving subsequent alertness and performance. According to the study, “a planned brief in-flight nap would be an operational strategy that directly reduces the physiological sleepiness engendered by flight operations.”
One pilot even acknowledged that cat naps are quite common.
It’s not legal, but as long as you don’t do something wrong—like overshoot your landing—it’s actually safer. You can look at the other guy and say if you need 10 minutes….it really brings you back to life.
Follow along on Peter’s CBS This Morning report to see whether not a cat nap has any impact on your flying safety.
For more information on pilot safety, check out:
- Are New Pilot Safety Regulations Enough?
- A Pilot’s Analysis of Potential Errors in Asiana 214
- New Law Boosts Pilot Training & Airline Accountability