The senior pilot of an Air India jet that crashed in May was asleep for most with the flight after which produced critical errors since he was disoriented after waking up, based on Indian news reports.
The crash on May 22 in Mangalore, India, killed 158 men and women after the jet overran the runway and plunged off a cliff.
Capt. Zlatko Glusica was captured loudly snoring on a cockpit recorder, the accident investigation found, based on the Hindustan Times. The Associated Press confirmed the account from a federal government official who spoke on condition of anonymity since the report had not been presented towards the Indian Parliament.
After waking, Glusica did not respond when his co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia repeatedly urged him to abort the landing.
Indian investigators stated that Glusica was suffering from "sleep inertia," a condition that can be deeply disorienting when an individual is awoken suddenly from deep sleep, based on the reports.
The accident may be the most clear-cut instance yet of the crash caused by a tired pilot and might affect the debate during the United States more than how to adjust pilot schedules to reduce fatigue, aviation safety experts say.
"This is almost a smoking gun," stated Curtis Graeber, a fatigue expert and consultant who specializes in pilot schedules.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has observed that fatigue played a role in several accidents, but has had to rely on circumstantial evidence. In the crash of the commuter plane on Feb. 12, 2009, near Buffalo that killed 50 people, investigators raised concerns that each pilots had not slept the night before, but stopped short of citing fatigue as being a cause.
Graeber and others could not recall a case wherever a pilot involved in an accident had been recorded even though asleep.
Two pilots on board a go! airlines flight in Hawaii on Feb. 13, 2007, fell asleep for at least 18 minutes, and their commuter jet flew past its destination, but the crew awoke in time to return to your safe landing.
In June 2008, an Air India aircraft headed to Mumbai flew past its destination with each pilots asleep. They landed after being awakened by air-traffic controllers.
The Federal Aviation Administration, under orders from Congress to address pilot fatigue, last September unveiled sweeping changes that would require longer rest periods for pilots. The proposal has met fierce opposition from airlines and some pilot unions.
John Cox, a retired airline pilot who works as being a safety consultant, stated he expects the Air India crash to be cited during the debate more than U.S. regulations.
Cox also cautioned that other factors might be blamed for ones India crash. For example, the co-pilot could have woken the captain earlier and been far more assertive, he said.
"This flies during the face of professional training," Cox said. "What has happened right here is tough to understand."
Cox and Graeber stated that the factors identified during the accident appear unlikely to come during the USA, wherever co-pilots are trained to speak up if they have safety concerns.