FAA Suspended Slumbering Go! Pilots

 - September 24, 2008, 10:06 AM

The FAA suspended the two pilots who fell asleep during a scheduled flight for Mesa Air Group’s Hawaiian subsidiary Go! earlier this year for careless and reckless operation of an aircraft, the agency said yesterday. The captain, who received a citation for failing to maintain radio communications, received a 60-day suspension. The first officer incurred a 45-day suspension. Both pilots completed their suspensions on September 9.

One of three accidents and an incident cited by the NTSB as the basis for a pair or recommendations to the FAA this past spring, the case involved a Mesa Airlines Bombardier CRJ200 that flew past its destination airport, General Lyman Field in Hilo, Hawaii, after its pilots fell asleep at the controls during a February 18 revenue flight. ATC repeatedly attempted to contact the crew for more than 18 minutes, as the airplane flew over Maui, crossed the big island of Hawaii and headed southeast over the Pacific Ocean. The airplane traveled 26 nm beyond its intended destination airport before the flight crew responded.

Testimony during a June 10 NTSB hearing in Washington revealed that the crew of the Mesa flight–operating as Go!, the Phoenix-based airline’s Hawaiian subsidiary–were working the third day of a trip schedule that involved repeated early start times and demanding sequences of short flight segments. The NTSB learned that after the incident, a doctor diagnosed the captain with severe obstructive sleep apnea, which left untreated results in reduced sleep quality, chronic fatigue and, in severe cases, cognitive impairment. Nevertheless, Mesa fired both pilots and the FAA did not cite the airline for any safety violations.
By ; channels: AT, AS1