Case Studies in Fatigue-Related Plane Crashes

Workers in any industry are more susceptible to making mistakes when they are sleep deprived. At best, this is counterproductive. At worst, fatigue can turn deadly. Pilot fatigue is one of the most significant safety problems that the aviation industry faces, and it played a key role in the following plane crashes.

Air France Flight 447

Air France flight 447 took off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with 216 passengers and 12 crew members. When the plane encountered turbulence during a tropical thunderstorm, the captain and his co-pilot were unable to regain control of the plane. Instead of lowering the nose when it lost lift, the captain raised it, in direct violation of standard protocols. It was determined that fatigue had been a factor in the crash. The flight recorder captured the captain complaining that he had only gotten one hour of sleep the night before, after having spent a romantic weekend in Rio with his girlfriend. When the Airbus 330 crashed on June 1, 2009, there were no survivors.

Continental Flight 3407

Continental flight 3407 took off from Newark, New Jersey headed to Buffalo, New York on February 12, 2009. Just five miles away from its destination, the plane stalled and crashed into a residential area, destroying a house and killing one man on the ground. Both pilots, two crew members, and all 45 passengers lost their lives in the crash. The post-crash investigation revealed that the pilots had failed to respond to cockpit warnings that the plane’s speed was too slow. The captain raised the nose, which worsened the situation. The report blamed the crash on pilot fatigue, noting that both pilots were tired from long commutes. Instead of checking into a hotel for a full night’s sleep, both pilots napped in the crew lounge at the airport.

Fatigue risk management is a top priority across many industries, including transportation. Guardvant is on the leading edge of driver fatigue detection and collision avoidance technology. Contact our headquarters in Tucson at (520) 299-1911 to discuss how our safety technologies can be integrated into your business.