Airline Pilots "Too Tired To Fly"

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Security delays at the airport can't be helping, and a British study has concluded that most British short-haul airline pilots are running on empty at the end of their shifts, according to a report in The Scotsman. The study, done by the University of Central England, says one of the 160 pilots interviewed reported being so tired at the end of one day that he couldn't drive home without pulling off the road and taking a nap first. The pilots told researchers that airlines are forcing them to work longer days by getting them to fly in the "discretionary hours" that are supposed to be set aside for coping with weather and equipment delays. About 80 percent say they've flown when they believe their judgment has been impaired by fatigue. However, the British government and at least two airlines seem to think the researchers found an unusually bleary-eyed bunch of pilots. Roger Wiltshire, secretary general of the British Air Transport Association, told the Scotsman that work-hours regulations are very conservative compared to other occupations and he believes the airlines take fatigue issues "very seriously." An unnamed EasyJet spokeswoman said the airline has studied the issue thoroughly and revamped its scheduling and roster systems accordingly. A British Airways spokesman noted that BA's pilots get to pick their flights and if they don't feel up to taking one they don't have to.