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How would you feel if your airplane pilot napped in the cockpit?

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Do you ever wonder if your pilot got enough rest before your flight. Pilot fatigue is a serious problem in the travel industry.

Pilots often start their days early and end them late -- often in another time zone. In addition to just feeling tired, pilots experience jet lag just like everyone else. Even though regulations exist restricting flying time and dictating the need for rest periods, fatigue is still a problem. As recently as 2017, two exhausted co-pilots almost caused a catastrophic accident when they nearly landed their plane on top of others on the ground.

Controlled Rest in Position, or CRIP

One possible solution involves allowing pilots to nap in the cockpit. Perhaps your first reaction to this proposition made you cringe at the thought of your pilot sleeping while flying you to your destination. The fact is that on long-haul flights, pilots do sleep but not necessarily in the cockpit. The reality is that it would benefit you more if your pilot was awake and refreshed, especially during the more dangerous parts of the flight such as takeoff and landing.

Two airlines of other countries already allow Controlled Rest in Position, called CRIP, only when the pilot in question adheres to the following requirements:

  • The pilot must inform the lead flight attendant and the co-pilot of the intention to rest.
  • The length of the rest period may only be a certain amount of time.
  • After waking, the pilot may not take control of the aircraft for a prescribed amount of time in order to combat sleep inertia, which is that grogginess you feel when you wake before you have full control of your faculties.
  • The co-pilot must remain awake and alert while the other naps.

The pilots who work for the airlines of the countries that allow CRIP say it does not only work well, but it works "very" well. Many pilots are in favor of implementing this policy here in the U.S. Others worry that it would make passengers wary or fearful knowing their pilots could sleep during flights. Dissenters also express concern that airlines would increase their flying schedules since pilots can nap, which leads to different issues.

There's no guarantee it would prevent accidents

Even the current regulations do not guarantee that a pilot will not fall asleep while in control of the plane. You cannot rely on CRIP to provide additional safety and security. However, if it saves even one flight from crashing, it may be worth it.

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