UK & World News
Pilots: More Than Half Sleep During Flights
The majority of pilots have fallen asleep while on the flight deck of a passenger aircraft, according to a survey.
Pilots' union Balpa found that 56% admitted to napping in the middle of a flight, with 29% of those saying that when they woke up, they found their co-pilot asleep too.
The results come a day after it was revealed that two pilots had nodded off at the same time at the controls of a flight from London to New Zealand.
That incident, which happened on an Airbus passenger jet which was on autopilot at the time, was reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Now Balpa, who polled 500 pilots, have found that 84% of those who responded felt that their abilities had been "compromised" by tiredness at some stage in the last six months.
Nearly half (49%) felt that tiredness was the biggest threat to flight safety - three times more than any other issue.
Balpa released its findings to raise awareness of what it believes are additional dangers posed by new EU regulations.
Pilots are concerned the new proposals - which they say will increase the number of potential early starts from three in a row to seven and the number of flying hours allowed from 95 in 14 days to 110 - will make flying more dangerous.
They say the new regulations, which will be voted on in Europe on Monday, will see Britain having to water down its safety regulations in order to set a pan-European standard, which will apply to those in other EU countries.
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: "Making every flight a safe flight is the number one priority for British pilots who have helped establish some of the highest safety standards in Europe.
"Tiredness is already a major challenge for pilots who are deeply concerned that unscientific new EU rules will cut UK standards and lead to increased levels of tiredness."
A CAA spokesman said: "The new European rules will increase our oversight role of airline operators and place firm obligations on airlines to introduce comprehensive fatigue management policies and monitoring systems.
"This will maintain the UK's current high safety levels and will increase safety levels in some other EU states."