Fatigue Could Have Played a Role in FlyDubai Crash
Photo courtesy of FlyDubai
The FlyDubai pilot who was involved in the fatal crash in Rostov-on-Don, Russia was due to leave the airline, a new report indicates. Several people from the airline confirmed that the captain of the doomed airplane, who has been identified as Aristos Sokratous from Cyprus, had already resigned and was serving out the remainder of his three month notice before officially leaving.
FlyDubai, in operation since 2009, is the first of the so-called Gulf Airlines to suffer a fatal accident. However, some employees of the airline actually believed that such a crash would happen sooner or later. Here’s why:
Report reveals problems with fatigue
All 62 people, including seven crew members, died in the crash. Weather was poor and visibility low when the plane’s tail clipped the runway, causing the accident. However, a BBC report, which cited a number of sources at FlyDubai, said that fatigue may have played a major role in the crash.
According to multiple sources at the airline, the reason that Sokratous was quitting FlyDubai had to do with fatigue. Two of the pilots who were interviewed by the British news agency on condition of anonymity have said that they were in the process of quitting as well for the exact same reason.
Not an isolated problem
One of them told the BBC: "I don't want to speculate on what caused the crash, but I think that fatigue must have been a contributory factor. I'm also not surprised it happened. Crew are overworked and suffering from fatigue. It is a significant risk. Staff are going from night to day shifts without enough rest in between. I would say 50 percent of the airline's workforce are suffering from acute fatigue.”
READ MORE: Plane Crash in Russia Leaves 62 Dead
This is not the first time that bad weather and fatigue have combined to cause a crash. In 2014, a TransAsia plane crashed near Taiwan during a storm. Pilot fatigue was eventually deemed a contributing factor.
Like the TransAsia plane, the FlyDubai flight was also attempting to land in poor weather. It had circled the runway for two hours waiting for conditions to improve. The crash occurred when a second attempt to land was made. The flight recorder was heavily damaged in the crash, so it may never be known if the captain was simply too tired to keep circling when he should have aborted the landing and rerouted to another airport.
Pushing employees too hard to save on operating costs?
The BBC report does highlight what could be a hidden problem for some budget airlines. In FlyDubai’s case, the idea of getting the most possible out of operating expenses seems to include getting the highest possible number of hours out of flight crews.
However, FlyDubai denies that this is taking place behind the scenes. After the BBC story, it released a statement saying that it follows all rules and that safety is a primary concern. It creates flight crew schedules with workload in mind and allows pilots who feel unfit to fly the option to declare themselves incapable of working.
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