Thursday 7 April 2011 by Gary Stanton

Long-haul pilot power-naps still being interrupted by pesky warning lights, finds survey


Pilots from a number of long-haul operators are being routinely woken in their cockpits by the inconsiderate prompting of a range of onboard ‘safety’ mechanisms, according to a survey.

Of 492 pilots who participated in the survey, 45 per cent claimed their ability to sleep for the duration of the flight was compromised more than once a week, either by some bullshit flashing light from an overhead panel or by a stewardess wandering by in a tight-fitting skirt.

Modern aircraft rely on an autopilot system which is like a big computer and is dead clever and cool at map-reading, and theoretically allows pilots a blissful period of uninterrupted shut-eye for up-to twelve hours.

However, pilots claim that in some cases they are being roused from their sleep and are expected to monitor these automated systems which are absolutely fine and that these requests ‘really are just taking the fucking piss, big-time’.

Cockpit fatigue

One pilot told us that both he and his co-pilot had been woken on a long-haul flight from Buenos Aires by a myriad of flashing lights and some hysterical drama queen air-traffic controller screaming at them to descend immediately in pidgin English.

“I’m sat there wiping the sleep from my eyes, I turn to look at Barry – the bastard is snoring away like a hippo, typical Baz – and there’s only a fucking 747 at the same altitude coming straight for us.”

“That one shit me up good and proper. It’s what they like to call a ‘near-miss’.”

“But there’s no way he should have been that close. That’s why you have the autopilot. It’s the best bit of kit we have and even more reliable than a Tom Tom.”

“As far as I’m concerned, as soon as I’ve read the weather report from Tenerife or wherever, that’s me done .”

“Incidentally it’s a beautiful day there – twenty five degrees, wind southwesterly, chance of a light shower later on.”

“Now pass me the Nytol and fuck off out of it.”

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