Long-Haul Airline Pilots to Be Monitored

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When the longest-ever nonstop airline flight went into service on Monday -- 18-plus hours between New York's Newark Airport and Singapore, over a 10,000-mile route, in an Airbus A340-500 -- the pilots became inadvertent guinea pigs. To document their response to the stresses of the flight, the crew will be hooked up with a special watch attached to a handheld computer, which will monitor their alertness levels, Singapore authorities told the Associated Press on Tuesday. After each flight, the pilots are scanned with a brainwave-measuring device to check how rested they are. The tests are to see whether new regulations are needed for the super-long flights. A final report on the study is due out next year. In Singapore and most other countries, current rules limit pilots to 18 hours of duty time. Singapore Airlines (SIA) now has four pilots on each flight under Singapore's aviation agency's provisional rules. Two of the pilots must be captains. Pilots are given two rest periods during the flight in individual compartments, and must undergo special training including guidelines on sleep physiology, alertness management and counter-fatigue measures. The new flight beats the existing record set in February 2004 when SIA launched nonstop service between Singapore and Los Angeles.