Even with all of the technological advances in the aviation industry, passenger planes simply don't move without pilots. Ultimately, getting to your destination safely relies on their skill and experience.
However, those qualities only benefit you if your pilot remains alert, vigilant and attentive during the flight. For this reason, it is crucial that pilots get a good amount of rest before flying. The problem is that it doesn't always happen, which puts your life in jeopardy.
A pilot's struggle is real
You have times when you don't sleep well, don't get enough sleep or don't sleep at all. While that may just make your day longer and a bit miserable, your lack of good rest may not jeopardize the lives of others. Pilots take on the responsibility for the safety of people they don't know every time they step into the cockpit. It can be a struggle for them to get adequate rest, though.
Factors that cause fatigue for pilots are the same ones that cause you fatigue. However, in addition to family obligations, stress, poor health and more, pilots have other obstacles to getting enough rest such as the following:
- Flying the same routes consistently could lead to boredom fatigue.
- Many pilots commute, so by the time they take the reins of your flight, they could have already flown or otherwise traveled for hours.
- Flying at night presents the same challenges as anyone who works the graveyard shift. Working overnight hours interrupts natural sleep patterns, which tends to increase fatigue.
- If you have experienced a prolonged layover, you know how tiring it can be. Pilots should rest during these long layovers, but if they are unable to sleep or decide to spend their time doing anything other than resting, fatigue could creep up on them once back on duty.
- Long-haul pilots experience jet lag like anyone else. They are not immune to the effect of traveling through numerous time zones.
As you can imagine, when these unique factors combine with ordinary fatigue-causing circumstances, the result can be a tired pilot who could easily make a mistake. Even when other factors contribute to plane crashes, the ultimate responsibility often lies with the pilots. For this reason, when a crash happens, the actions of the pilots receive close scrutiny. If fatigue plays a role, pilots are held personally responsible right along with others including the airline, maintenance personnel and manufacturers.