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Wake up call: Both pilots are falling asleep in the cockpit

Posting in Technology

Anyone awake in there?

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Airline pilots have revealed that it's not uncommon for both pilots to fall asleep at the same time on two-pilot commercial flights.

The second sentence of this blog post is intentionally void of any information so that you can pause and take in what you just read.

Okay, back to business now.

The British Airline Pilots Association "circulated a survey of 500 commercial pilots suggesting half had fallen asleep on the flight deck and a third had woken up to find the other pilot asleep," the BBC reported.

The survey came to light amid a report that two pilots had dozed off at the same time at 35,000 feet on August 13 while at the controls of a U.K. based Airbus A330 passenger flight. That revelation came via a Freedom of Information request by Data News Ltd., in which Britain's Civil Aviation Authority did not reveal the exact flight but said hundreds of passengers were likely on board.

"One of the pilots had only five hours sleep over the previous two nights," the BBC wrote. The two skippers were taking turns monitoring the auto-pilot system.

The news surfaces as the European Parliament gets ready to vote Monday on easing pilot safety restrictions. The looser regulations would allow a pilot to land an aircraft even after being awake for 22 hours, would increase the number of early starts, and, get this: Would allow only two pilots rather than three on the longest haul flights.

Going overseas soon? Bring a noisemaker.

Photo is from Kuster & Wildhaber Photography via Flickr

— By on September 26, 2013, 7:09 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure