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Report: Fatigue contributed to high-profile plane crash

In August of 2013, a UPS cargo plane was descending in an effort to land at a southern airport. Instead of touching down safely, the plane slammed into the ground. The impact killed the plane’s crew. Whenever a plane crashes in the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board opens an investigation into the event. The NTSB recently released information related to this high-profile crash. The agency’s investigation has revealed that pilot fatigue contributed to this fatal crash.

We have written previously about the dangers associated with drowsy driving. But in truth, operating any kind of transportation vehicle while drowsy can lead to devastating consequences. In addition to drowsy driving accidents, Americans are killed with surprising frequency in drowsy train accidents, drowsy boat accidents and drowsy aviation accidents.

According to the NTSB’s investigation, preventative onboard technology could have potentially prevented the crash. However, the plane’s software was outdated. Transportation manufacturers are increasingly drawn to system technology that alerts motorists and operators when they may be imperiling their own lives by engaging in drowsy behavior. Unfortunately, it is far easier to pull over to the side of the road to rest than it is to land a plane for a stretch to rest.

Package haulers, including UPS crews, often work primarily at night. If pilots do not obtain adequate rest during the day, they place themselves and their crews at risk of injury and death due to drowsy flying. Hopefully the NTSB’s report will serve as a warning to other pilots that rest is serious business.

Source: New York Times, “Lack of Sleep Is Ruled Factor in 2013 UPS Plane Crash,” Matthew L. Wald, Sep. 9, 2014

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