SOUTHWEST and Delta pilots warn that the number one risk to aircraft safety is increasing.
The problem was repeatedly reported to the Federal Aviation Safety Reporting System.
“Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’ number one safety threat,” the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association wrote in a letter to airline executives this week.
Cancellations and delays due to severe weather are cited as factors contributing to fatigue, according to pilots.
Demand is also an issue as many airlines are still recovering from Covid and millions more people are travelling.
New data from the Transportation Security Administration shows passenger numbers are about 90 percent of 2019 levels.
However, US airlines don’t have as many employees as they did back then.
In fact, they have about 3,000 fewer employees, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Many pilots have retired or retired at age 65 during the pandemic.
In addition, another 2,000 pilots will reach mandatory retirement age in 2022, according to the Regional Airline Association.
Southwest has said hiring more employees is a priority this year.
The company plans to hire about 8,000 new employees, 40 percent of whom will be flight crew, CNN said.
According to SWAPA, the number of pilots incapacitated due to fatigue increased significantly last fall, and only in the last month has there been a further spike
“April is already setting fatigue records,” SWAPA wrote in the letter to executives.
Meanwhile, Delta pilots have held demonstrations at airports across the country this month to draw attention to their concerns.
Last month, the Air Line Pilots Association sent a message to Delta members, saying that during the pandemic there have been “several opportunities for Delta to reorganize its pilot staffing issue.”
ALPA also noted that insurance coverage is more difficult to obtain for pilots who are tiring due to weather changes or illness.
“Delta Flight Operations continues to operate on the red line,” the letter said.
“So if it feels like you’re working more and have less control over your schedule, then you’re right; you’re.”
There are federal rules and regulations regarding work and rest times for pilots.
Most major airlines have a 30 hour flight limit with at least nine hours between flights.
According to CNN, pilots from all airlines filed 60 reports of incidents or errors attributed to fatigue.
Incidents are reported anonymously and reports are shared with a federal website.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18286448/pilots-warn-that-number-one-risk-plane-safety-increasing/ Southwest and Delta pilots warn that the “number one risk” to aircraft safety is increasing