Buffalo Crash Puts Pilot Fatigue Under Microscope

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2009 9:00 AM CDT
A sign in memory of the crash victims is posted at Niagara Frontier Sikh Society near the scene of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, NY, Wednesday, May 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/David Duprey)
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(Newser) – You want to be a flashy, high-flying pilot? Get ready for poverty-level wages, grueling commutes, and near-constant exhaustion, the New York Times reports. The inquiry into the crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo has thrust regional airlines into the spotlight, and with that attention comes concerns about pilots’ challenging lives. One pilot says he’s lucky to get 4 and a half hours of sleep a night.

Like Flight 3407's pilots, many often live far from their flight bases and spend hours flying or driving to work, sleeping in cars or in plane aisles. Airlines deny chronic fatigue is a problem, but even if it’s difficult to prove that exhaustion causes accidents, “the fact that you can’t make this easy and direct link isn’t reason to ignore the problem,” one pilot says.