Most pilots in India fall asleep while flying: Study

Two-thirds of pilots in India have admitted to dozing off in the pilot's seat.

Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Updated26 Sep 2022
The most common causes of falling asleep in the cockpit were overwork.
The most common causes of falling asleep in the cockpit were overwork.

In India, two-thirds of pilots have admitted to dozing off in the pilot's seat. According to a study by the Safety Matters Foundation that included 542 regional, local and international pilots, 66% of those polled admitted falling asleep while at the controls of the aircraft without waking up a fellow crew member. There is a chronic scarcity of competent pilots in India, where airlines require up to 1,500 new pilots annually. However, only 200 to 300 of these new hires have the appropriate training.

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The most common causes of falling asleep in the cockpit were overwork and having to fly back-to-back morning flights, which required getting up as early as 2am. One of the biggest causes of aeroplane accidents is fatigue. Between India and the UK, where 1.5 million British Indians reside, there are hundreds of flights per week. Around 54% of pilots reported having severe excessive daytime sleepiness, according to their responses, while 41% reported having moderate excessive daytime sleepiness.

At least one-third of those polled admitted to having a near-accident experience while flying, which they attributed to being too fatigued. Pilot weariness accounts for 15-20% of human mistakes in fatal accidents. Aviation accidents do not happen every day. However, statistics reveal that 80% of the time, human error is to blame. Slower reaction times, diminished concentration and worse decision-making are all effects of fatigue.

Also Read: DGCA slaps 5 Kedarnath helicopter operators with 5-lakh fine, suspends officials

48% of fatal accidents and onboard fatalities occur during the final approach and landing, according to a statistical review of commercial aeroplane accidents worldwide between 1959 and 2016. According to data from 2011 to 2015, the approach and landing phases of a flight accounted for over 65% of all accidents that were reported, with unstabilised approaches being a contributing factor in 14% of these incidents. Additionally, unstabilised approaches were at blame for 31% of runway excursions.

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