Computers Plot Pilot Fatigue
It's hard to imagine anyone falling asleep at the controls while flying water bombers but Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has come up with a computer program to help firefighting pilots avoid fatigue. The "fatigue management systems" are designed to optimize flight time while ensuring the pilots get enough rest. Pilot fatigue has been identified as one of the most serious risks in fire operations and a chronic hot topic between line pilots and their managers. It's no wonder. Pilots fly for up to nine hours and do as many as 95 drops during that time. The computer program is intended to help design flight schedules that get the most out of man and machine without compromising safety. In the province of Victoria, firefighting contractors must also take a four-hour course and exam. There are, of course, special training and qualifications that pilots must have.