- Pilot Fatigue/Sleep Monitoring Program Largely Ignored by FAA/NTSB
- Tired, Sleepless, And Antidepressant Medicated Pilots Spell Human Error Disasters?
- Air India Crash Leaves Smoking Hole at the End of the Runway
- FAA Sleeps Through Calls to Reconsider Antidepressant/SSRI Ruling
- FAA Offers Little Rest to Sleepy Pilots, More Insomnia for Travelers
- Sleepy Pilots’ Unions Throw Blankets Over FAA’s New Duty Time Rules
- Sleepy Pilots, Unions, Carriers Find the ‘Junk’ in New FAA Rules
- Safety and Security of US at Risk as DHS, TSA, and FAA Sleep
- PA Congressman Gets House Vote to Delay Airline Safety for Passengers
- Sleeping Controllers Turn Public Eye From FAA/Congressional Failures
- Was Sleep Deprivation the Real Killer in the Air France 447 Crash?
- FAA & DOT Give First Class Seat to Airlines as Safety Gets Bumped
- New EU Rules Will Allow Sleepless and Tired Pilots to Fly Longer
- New Pilot Fatigue Rules Depart on 2 Year Flight to a Dark Future
- Dark Questions Cloud Air Safety: Sleep, Stress and Antidepressants
- Sleepless Pilot Safely Lands Huge Plane at Tiny Airport
A report just released by the U.S. Air Force attributed a wrong airport landing last July to pilot fatigue. The frightening story ended well as the sleepless pilot was able to safely land his huge C-17 Globemaster cargo plane at a tiny Davis Island airport. Witnesses of the landing could not believe the tired Air Force pilot was able to stop his 400,000 pound cargo plane on the short Peter O. Knight runway designed for small private aircraft.
Shocked witnesses saw the behemoth coming in for the landing and they ran for cover. The young Air Force pilot thought he was landing at MacDill Air Force Base which was four miles south and west of Peter O. Knight Airport. The tiny Peter O. Knight airport doesn’t even have a control tower. The pilot and his co-pilot were on their own as they brought the monster down on a runway constructed for aircraft weighing less than 20,000 pounds.
Tampa International Airport’s FAA controllers usually hand off MacDill AFB traffic when they are about ten miles out. Communication in this case somehow broke down as the pilot thought he was landing at the giant Air Force base with an 11,421 foot runway. The $200 million C-17 Globemaster cargo plane is 174 feet long, stands five stories tall and has a wing span of 169.8 feet. The length of Peter O. Knight’s runway is 3,580 feet and 100 feet wide! Witnesses watched the landing with angst from skyscrapers bordering the tiny airport. WCSH6.com covered the incredible story.
A witness on the ground was able to record the landing on his IPhone as he yelled, “Oh, my God!” Another observer who watched from a skyscraper nearby told the Tampa Bay Times that the plane was coming in so fast that he “never in a million years” thought the pilot would safely land the plane. He was watching for the crash and the flames, but the plane landed and stopped a mere ten feet from the end of the runway. No one was hurt in the miraculous landing. The pilot escaped with a severely damaged ego and the Air Force walked away with just a $1000 fine to cover the airport’s expenses for its 7-hour closure.
Requests for Freedom of Information Act disclosures on the incident were answered last week when the Tampa Bay Times received the first copy of the Air Force’s report. The investigation blamed the pilot’s dangerous mistake on “human error” caused by “pilot fatigue.” The sleepless pilot had been worried and distressed over leaving his cell phone in a taxi. The unnamed, tired pilot successfully performed in-flight refueling operations before being challenged by his nearly “impossible” landing.
General James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill, who was riding in the plane at the time, calmly told the press, “The young pilot did a good job landing, albeit on the wrong strip.” Mattis recently added, “Some young guys made a human error and hopefully they’ll recover and enjoy long and illustrious careers.”
This was a pilot fatigue story that ended well. Many of these stories end with “smoking holes in the ground.”
The people on the ground near Peter O. Knight field on July 20, 2012 and the plane’s 23 passengers and 19 crew members are still thanking God that the C-17’s pilot woke up and responded quickly to his mistake. Sleep inertia usually condemns the waking brain to delayed or fatal responses to danger.
America is still waiting for flight and duty-time regulations passed in 2011 to be implemented. They are scheduled to go into effect in December of this year but cargo and military aircraft have been exempted. The FAA found that “their compliance costs significantly exceed the quantified societal benefits.”
Cargo pilots fly longer hours and pass through more time zones in a work week than most commercial pilots. “Society” will have to keep praying for pilots able to endure 12 to 22 (new European regulations) hour flight/duty schedules!
The FAA and EASA (European Air Safety Association) will continue to award first class “benefits” to cargo and military airline companies while “society” takes a seat at the rear of the plane . . . or burns in a “smoking hole” on the ground.