• Sweden's news in English

Half of Swedish pilots fall asleep in the cockpit

TT/The Local/jl · 19 Oct 2011, 10:20

Published: 19 Oct 2011 10:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The study, which included responses from 625 pilots working at all the different airlines in Sweden, also found that 70 percent of them admitted to having made mistakes caused by tiredness, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reported.

In addition, 80 percent of Swedish pilots reported that existing work hour rules "constitute a threat to flight safety".

According to current EU regulations, a pilot is allowed to work shifts as lengthy as 13 hours, sometimes with two additional hours of overtime.

"These results are alarming and we're naturally very concerned," said Mattias Kling, coordinator for work hour issues at the SPF.

"We can't accept that half the pilots have fallen asleep in the cockpit."

And despite the alarming study, there’s a proposition to extend allowed the length of pilot shifts to 16 hours.

“A pilot on duty also needs to get to the airport which often takes time. Then add to that 16 hours of continuous work. Is it safe to fly with that pilot?” Kling told TT.

Kling doesn’t want to comment on the risk this poses to passengers, but he’s not happy with current regulations, and pilots now demand that these be based on scientific findings.

Story continues below…

“If you don’t have scientific facts you need to practice the precautionary principle,” Kling said.

“You have to be certain what the rules you impose mean. That’s the message we want to get across.”

TT/The Local/jl (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:51 October 19, 2011 by darky
They shoud drink enough coffee. No sleep as it also gives them inspiration. lol
13:35 October 19, 2011 by Keith #5083
Thank goodness I fly Ryanair where the desperate urge to go to a non-existent toilet keeps them awake
13:53 October 19, 2011 by Opinionfool
I would never ever fly Ryanair---they discriminate against disabled people!

That said, just how serious is this in a normal commercial long haul flight. The flight crew will have dialled in the auto-pilot data after which point they are passengers like the rest of us. The plane will continue to fly on that course until either the crew switch auto-pilot off or the airframe runs out of fuel.

There are sufficient alarms to wake them up in the event of an emergency. Some pilots say there are too many alarms to go off in the cockpit. Several major air disasters have been occasioned by cognitive overload of the pilots as they can't prioritorise the alarms sensibly.

Having human crew seemingly in control (that is seen to be awake) is a sop to the passengers. We believe that a human needs to be in control and gives a false sense of safety. Personally I would rather have a pilot awake in control of the dangerous portions of the flight , i.e. take off and landing, than force them to remain awake just for form's sake. Have them fresh and alert when it truly matters.
14:53 October 19, 2011 by Great Scott
You will find that this figure is nothing new and applies to most pilots around the world.

However what is disturbing is the high number of Swedish Politian's that fall asleep while on the job.
15:37 October 19, 2011 by jack sprat
No great surprise, coming as they do from the land of nod.

With any luck at all one of these days I'll buy a ticket to London and end up somewhere on the Med..
17:40 October 19, 2011 by skogsbo
apart from 10 mins at either end, long haul flights are just buses in the sky, only safer and easier to keep on the right route. Everything is automated, humans are only on modern planes to overide the computer should something out of the ordinary happen. Most modern planes could land themselves too these days.

Truck drivers from the continent pushing their hours, falling asleep at the wheel are a far greater hazard.
17:55 October 19, 2011 by Opinionfool

Too damn right! And not just "from the continent" local truck drivers are as guilty off working (being forced to work) long hours beyond what is safe for them and for us.
18:01 October 19, 2011 by Grokh
we can blame the pilot for jeopardizing the lives of its passengers or we can blame the airliners for making pilots work like ants.

i blame both
19:09 October 19, 2011 by Opinionfool

We should blame ourselves too for that mistaken belief we are safer because wewant a human being in the cockpit awake at all times.g
19:47 October 19, 2011 by HYBRED
Half fall asleep, and the other half are probably kickin back having a cigarette. What do you think they been doing?
20:40 October 19, 2011 by skogsbo
hybred, the other half are probably down inside the tiny crew cabin with one of the stewards/esses! ;)

Most jets fly with at least 2 pilots, some 3, 50% asleep leaves 1 or 2 awake - thus no news story. :)
06:55 October 20, 2011 by Da Goat
I am totally happy if half the pilots fall asleep, however if the other half fall asleep then I would worry a bit!
08:26 October 20, 2011 by Rick Methven
This is just another try by SAS pilots, who are the vast majority of the SPF members, to reduce the hours that they have to spend sitting on their fat wallets. The maximum hours that it is legally permitted to fly is never reached. The maximum number of sectors within a shift usually ensures that. A limit of 4 sectors keeps the duty hours down.

The pilots unions of the legacy carriers like SAS BA etc always want to fly less hours so that the Airlines will have to employ more pilots which mean more members for the unions. In my 45 years in the business, I have seen it again and again.
20:27 October 21, 2011 by johan rebel
What kind of "study" is this? Sounds more like the union sent out a questionnaire to get the answers they wanted, knowing that it would be easy to get the dumb media to jump on their bandwagon.

If pilots falling a sleep as a result of having to work too hard and long was such a big issue, this would be reflected in accident statistics.

These overpaid pilots just want work even less hours for their money. The average longhaul pilot spends 3½ hours per year acutally flying hands-on, the rest of the time the aircraft is on autopilot. No wonder they have plenty of time to take naps.
Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available