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United pilot seen to sleep during the flight according to FAA rules, reports find

A pilot was seen sleeping during a flight, startled passengers, but it turns out that he was only following FAA mandatory rest requirements.

A United pilot who shocked passengers to exit the cockpit to take a nap in the first class on a flight from Newark to Glasgow than following the safety instructions, the airline said.

A passenger on the night Aug. 22 flight took a picture of the sleeping captain after noticing he changed from his uniform in the toilet, and then laid down for a break in the plane with empty seats.

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“He slept an hour and a half, when the first officer went to sleep. The flight was about seven hours,” the passenger told the Daily Record.

“I don’t think the captain of a flight filled with hundreds of people in a vulnerable position. Certainly when pilots in need of a rest mid-flight, they should do it away from the passengers. I have travelled to the US often and have never witnessed it.”

However, despite the passenger shock, this situation is not uncommon, and it should not be a cause for concern if it is only a safety precaution to keep the crew from getting fatigued.

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The Federal Aviation Administration requires pilots to get a certain number of hours of rest in any 24-hour period.

“Because many airlines fly non-stop ultra-long-range flights, the FAA continues to evaluate the latest research on the effects of time zone changes on circadian rhythm and time zone changes to mitigate pilot fatigue. For international flights more than 12 hours of the flight, carriers must establish rest periods and adequate sleeping facilities outside of the cockpit for in-flight rest”, according to an FAA fact sheet on Pilot Flight Time, Rest and Fatigue.

While many planes have a certain private area above the galley to the front, intended for the crew members resting, a smaller aircraft is not of those areas. On the Boeing 757-200 model aircraft, which flew from Newark to Glasgow, one of the 16 lie-flat business class seats is reserved for the rest of the crew area, according to The Points Guy.

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A United spokesman confirmed the pilot on the flight in question meet regulatory safety requirements.

“The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority. On trans-Atlantic flights, our pilots are required by the FAA to take a break. The aircraft on this route was operated by a cockpit crew of three, and this test was after the FAA-mandated crew rest requirements,” the spokesperson said.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

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