Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Night Flights = Pilot Fatigue. It’s not rocket science is it?!

Poor Bf has gone to do his deep night flight. Last night, he flew a short flight, and was home by about 2am. Tonight, he has had to take off at midnight, meaning he had to get to the airport for around 10:30pm and will land at 10am tomorrow! I really feel so sorry for him. He tried to sleep in as late as possible this morning; but these days, he just naturally seems to wake early; and he just couldn’t sleep past 10am.

This is not helped by the fact that our neighbours are having their pavement kerb access lowered, so we have road workers out there working noisily, without a care in the world. Add to this the fact that it is school holidays right now, and all the neighbourhood children seem to think our street is ‘where it’s at’ to kick a football, and he really had no chance.

I pretty much forced him to go back to bed this afternoon, despite his not feeling particularly tired, and he did manage to get a few more hours sleep (albeit broken sleep).

I am really concerned that his airline are happy to operate flights at such bizarre times. Whilst it’s fine to sit in the flight planning office and think of pilots and cabin crew as robots who just function in their roles like they’re ‘ten on tap’. The reality is that these people have real lives that may add confounding variables into the equation.

…They often have young families, live in areas where they cannot necessarily get their full rest undisturbed, blah blah blah… The point is, that he was drinking strong black coffee before he left our house this evening to try to give himself more of a chance to make it through the night alert.  He was dreading going to work, and said he would have given anything not to have worked it (this for him is unheard of)! It’s not good.

To be honest, there are obvious red flags here for safety. I can understand that with long-haul flights there is a need to fly through the night; but really-what is the need in this case? It disturbs redidents in close proximity to the airports, leads to tired, and aggrivated passengers, tired and hacked of flight attendants (and the ones at Bf’s company can be a bit pissy at the best of times), and tired pilots. AND ITS NEEDLESS!

It also means that I have to get up as soon as he is back, and vacate the house with all three children so that he can at least have a fighting chance of getting the sleep he needs. The timing couldn’t be worse. I don’t think the weather forecast is great, and with the medication I’m on-I cannot drive. We live in a small village where nothing much is going on, and all I want to do is lie down myself!

I cannot understand why passengers would want to book short-haul flights at times like this, when there are so many other options! Are they so simple that they don’t realise that it’s not as though they’ll get any decent rest on the plane; so they too are going to arrive knackered, and waste the first day of their holiday sleeping off their own fatigue to save what-£20 on the cost of their ticket?! Helloooooooo- FALSE ECONOMY!



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