Air France Crash: Pilot Marc Dubois Reportedly Was Sleep Deprived

Marc Dubois Air France pilot crashOn May 31, 2009, an Air France plane carrying 228 people from Brazil to France crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone on board. It was one of the deadliest accidents in aviation history, and according to a recently disclosed judicial report, the pilot had only one hour of sleep.

"I didn't sleep enough last night. One hour -- it's not enough," the pilot, Marc Dubois, is recorded as saying one hour into the flight, reports the the French news magazine Le Point. Dubois was taking a scheduled nap when the plane was whipped by a tropical storm, and he reportedly took more than minute to respond to his co-pilot's calls for help.

Fatigue is no isolated issue in the aviation industry, where pilots frequently have long and irregular shifts and short rest periods, in addition to crossing time zones. Last year, a National Sleep Foundation survey of transportation workers found that 1 in 5 pilots said that they'd made a "serious" error due to sleep deprivation. That figure has cropped up before; more than 1 in 5 pilots raised the issue of fatigue to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System.

More: Did British Airways Pilots Die From Cabin Fumes?

The veteran JetBlue pilot who famously had a "meltdown" on a flight between New York and Las Vegas last May was found not guilty by reason of insanity after testimony that he was sleep deprived. The problem isn't just limited to long-haul flights. A 2006 survey of 162 short-haul commercial pilots in the United Kingdom found that three-quarters reported severe fatigue, and the vast majority said that the problem of fatigue was worse than two years before.

After a regional airline flight from Newark, N.J., to Buffalo, N.Y., crashed in 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to change its policy based on the latest fatigue science. The new regulations, which will take effect next year, expand a pilot's minimum rest period between shifts from 8 hours to 10, and require pilots to have at least 30 consecutive hours off, once a week. All pilots must also affirmatively state whether they are fit for duty before takeoff.

"This is a major safety achievement," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at the time.

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

Related Stories

Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

ALL the pilots, especially LONG HAUL, are SLEEP DEPRIVED: how else can it be when you spend several nights in flight !?!
However, when they get a chance to sleep in good conditions, they sometimes sleep 10 hours or more.
When Cpt Dubois speaks about 1 hr sleep, he obviously doen't speak of the previous night, but rather on the nap he had before the flight !!!

March 30 2013 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Pilots must affirmatively state they are in a condition" to do the job before flying. It is a good idea and the pilot better do so before the flight if assigned that job, or else... Living on savings? For how long after having been fired?

March 25 2013 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

PILOTS actually LOVE to fly through bad weather; and especially the retired fighter pilots, who find flying commercial airlines a bit too mundane; so people, put that one into your pipe & smoke it, the next time to you board a plane that you won't push the airlines to retrofit with parachutes (in place of the over-head bins - as has already been proven to work) and save your sorry keisters;,... if only you could pass up bringing all that junk onboard, and willing to pay the extra fare?...

March 21 2013 at 1:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

So shoot the people who make it impossible for pilots not to get their sleep !


March 21 2013 at 1:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WTF???? Are you kidding me, the pilot should have NEVER been on the plane!! He had 1 that is single hour of sleep and the airline who is responsible for this allowed him to get on and take off!!! Once again big bucks buys any excuse that can be afforded!!

March 21 2013 at 1:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

BS. He's not to blame. Blame the companies and unions that fail to protect the pilots. I struggled with this problem for years. Slapping my own face, biting my knuckles 'till bleeding and thowing water on myself to keep myself awake. The hours required to work and the lack of concern for time zones is tragic. There should have been many more of these incidents. It's a testiment to the professionalism of the pilots that there are not more. Let's not even mention eating meals that are not designed for your zone. Try filet of sole, with a cream sause at 4am to malke you feel on schedule.
It amounts to this. People want cheap flights. Cheap flights occur at night when he planes are less full. The airlines support filing those planes up. SAFETY BE DAMNED.

March 20 2013 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mimi's place

Pilots do not always get enugh sleep. They are overnighting in noisy hotels, sleeping on unfamiliar beds and pillows. Not to mention they are required to "rest" at odd hours so the required hours are taken. And this cycle repeats sometimes for seven days at a time. Not to mention that all the commercial airlines have cut pay and benefits for these employees. Basicly, if they don't work, they don't get paid. Of course these poor individuals get into the cockpit, they have mortgages to pay too. Not saying it's right, just the way it is.

March 20 2013 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
James Driscoll

This was the cause! Observe the other airliners deviating around the freekin level 5 thunderstorms!

March 20 2013 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to James Driscoll's comment

I read somewhere the reason was the co-pilot was inexperienced in flying this particular Aircraft. It had fly-by wire stick and when the pitot tube froze over and the est speed of the aircraft went to near zero he pulled back on the stick and sent the plane into a stall. When the Pilot entered the cockpit to try and rectify the co-pilots mistake he was unaware that the co-pilot was still pulling back on the stick because there is no feedback from one stick to the other. By the time the co-pilot informed the pilot what he was doing it was too late. I believe the last words of the pilot was to push the stick to dive to try and come out of the stall but by then they were to low to come out of it. Shame.

March 20 2013 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to hb341's comment

I read that, too.

March 20 2013 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

The problem with a stall is you don't always have the room to recover, unless someone is quickly digging a Grand Canyon ahead of you first. I am amazed at how often, even experienced pilots, fail to push the stick after the stall screamer come on. Better correct too often than too late once.

March 25 2013 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

And yet another reason not to fly.

March 20 2013 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a bunch of crap. Pilots get plenty of time off to sleep. They work alot less hours than the average employee.

March 20 2013 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RXTOXICWASTE's comment

You have no idea what your talking about.

March 25 2013 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web