Staying awake on the flightdeck

Obviously the main thing pilots now do to pass the time on boring sectors is discuss what happened to the Northwest crew who overflew Minneapolis on a boring sector. But the bloggers among them are starting to put their thoughts into print.

Aluwings at The Wings Stayed On is educational about the inventive uses to which the flight management system can be put, but he’s also good on why you really don’t want to play with the aircraft systems and why SOPs are generally there for a reason.

And Aviatrix at Cockpit Conversation has been whiling away the hours by recording how she was whiling away the hours. In remarkable detail. She sounds good company.

All good, innocent fun. Although when the ACARS datalink was first introduced back in the early 90s, airlines were surprised by some of the data bills they started getting. Investigations followed and one carrier felt impelled to issue an edict banning the game of searching the weather data in order to bet with other crews on which airport had the lowest temperature in the world.

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3 Responses to Staying awake on the flightdeck

  1. Aviatrix November 4, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    I love that you noticed that keeping track of how we were diverting ourselves was in fact a diversion. Nice datum on the “coldest temperature bet” too.

  2. anonymous November 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Staying awake on the flight deck is a matter which inevitably involves both management and flight crew. On the management side, acknowledgement of human limitations, and respect for intelligent flight and duty rostering are essential. Just because certain rostering falls (just) within flight and duty time limit rules does not mean that it is a good or responsible idea. I have seen a case where a colleague had fatigue problems on the last sector of multiple consecutive long days with no breaks and nil or inadequate crew meals. Management response was to place him on an error management course and remedial sim sessions, so that they were seen to be taking “corrective ” action. He is a very capable, intelligent, resposible pilot who was simply fatigued as a result of poor rostering practices.

    On the flight crew side there is an inherent responsibility to use rest time (off-duty time) with due regard to crew members being essentially a part of the aeroplane. We insist that the aircraft be maintained to first class standards; We need to maintain ourselves likewise. Having one or two drinks and some relaxing converstaion at the end of the days flying helps us to wind down and get a good night’s sleep. However, if rest time is minimal, we need to accept that there is no time for such socializing, and give priority to sleep. Even with plenty of rest time, we need to exercise self-discipline and intelligent self-management by choosing nutritious meals,limiting our alcohol consumption and getting whatever physical exercise the circumstances allow. By maintaining a high level of physical fitness we are able to think more clearly, cope better with stress, and psychologically lift the overall tone of the team.

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