Friday, September 01, 2006

The crash of Comair 5191: fatigue and economic pressures

Salon's resident pilot-journalist, Patrick Smith, has written the best review of the recent Comair 5191 crash I've seen. This comment is particularly interesting, emphases mine.

What could have happened on Comair 5191 |
... If, on some level, regional flying is 'less safe' than mainline flying -- an academic distinction if ever there was one -- crew fatigue might be something to look at. Having been employed as a captain and first officer at regional carriers for the better part of seven years, I'll attest to the brutality of scheduling: short layovers with no access to food followed by multi-leg days of high-workload flying. Media reports claim the crew of 5191 may have had as little as eight hours break between duty periods, with an early morning check-in just prior to the incident. Tiredness is no excuse for what apparently happened, but I wouldn't be shocked if, months from now when the National Traffic Safety Board completes its dossier, fatigue is listed as a contributing cause."
The airline industry is being squeezed. If schedule-driven fatigue turns out to be a big factor the lesson we'll know the squeeze has gone too far ...

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