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737 pilot locked out of cockpit while co-pilot sleeps





zaxacongrejo
737 pilot locked out of cockpit while co-pilot sleeps
An investigation was launched after a Boeing 737 pilot was locked out of the cockpit and his co-pilot was later found asleep at the controls. Wired!
This happened in September, when the airliner was going from Greece to the Netherlands.
The pilot stepped out of the cockpit to go to the bathroom and when he returned a short period of time later, he used the intercom to ask his co-pilot to open the door. And guess what? There was no answer.
Eventually, he was able to open the door himself. That's when he found the first officer asleep.
So I have a question so like we saw technologies in planes evolute so much in the latest years that pilots and co pilots feel safe enough to sleep, flirt with flight attendants etc, so why doesn’t planes have a motion detector at the cockpit? Isn’t it logic?
If the human stops to move during x minutes/seconds the system alarms the other crew members and try’s to wake up the sleeper by vibration noise etc
ocalhoun
zaxacongrejo wrote:

If the human stops to move during x minutes/seconds the system alarms the other crew members and try’s to wake up the sleeper by vibration noise etc

Piloting doesn't exactly require a lot of motion. It could easily detect sleeping when the pilot is actually awake.
...And that would get really annoying.
(Ever been in a room with motion activated lights while doing something still, like reading? I've had rooms go dark on me like that before.)
standready
ocalhoun wrote:

Piloting doesn't exactly require a lot of motion.

Especially when 'auto'-pilot is engaged. Probably one reason why the co-pilot fell asleep.
Insanity
I think that's the reason why pilots are required by law to sleep for a certain amount or time (or take a break for a certain amount of time) so that they don't fall asleep. But then again, since most systems are on autopilot these days, I doubt anything much could happen. Not saying that nothing would happen, but it's unlikely with the power of computers nowadays.
nickfyoung
When we fly these days we place a great deal of trust in science and modern technology as well as the crew who operate such high tech stuff. I still marvel every time I fly at how such a monstrous thing could get off the ground let alone stay up there. We don't have a lot of options now if we want to go somewhere but I am never 100% comfortable when I am flying. Not many come down in relation to the number that is in the sky at any one time. I do have to admire the pilots though for their skills.
Nick2008
Pilots can nod off during long flights despite generally being required to monitor gauges and log fuel consumption throughout the flight. Requiring sensors in every cockpit would be pretty drastic because most pilots do remain alert and stay on top of their job. There are two pilots for a reason as well. This situation could have been easily prevented not by motion sensors but by simply making sure that each pilot could open the cockpit door by themselves (keys or access code).
twotrophy
ocalhoun wrote:
zaxacongrejo wrote:

If the human stops to move during x minutes/seconds the system alarms the other crew members and try’s to wake up the sleeper by vibration noise etc

Piloting doesn't exactly require a lot of motion. It could easily detect sleeping when the pilot is actually awake.
...And that would get really annoying.
(Ever been in a room with motion activated lights while doing something still, like reading? I've had rooms go dark on me like that before.)

What about cameras instead? It would be more practical and cheaper than motion detectors. Another possibility is to have at least one other pilot in the cabin at all times for safety reasons. But is this practical? How often do pilots or co-pilots need to take a break? Such incidents are probably rare and this probably happened because auto-pilot was turned on.
deanhills
Probably make sure the door can be opened on both sides. Or any other adjustments to the lock to ensure none of the pilots or copilots would ever be locked out.
SonLight
I found a reference to this incident:

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/lone-co-pilot-panicked-after-putting-indian-737-into-350342/

Apparently it was quite serious. The pilot was only gone a short time, but the plane went into a steep dive and the co-pilot panicked. It appears the co-pilot adjusted his seat, and inadvertently pushed it -- hard -- against the control stick. The flight data recorder later showed 200 pounds of force on the co-pilot's stick, while the pilot only managed to pull the other way with 130 pounds of force! I would say this incident needs to be carefully investigated before assigning blame. The co-pilot obviously messed up, but did not likely fall asleep during the short interval. I'm sure training and/or redesign of the seat will be part of the recommendation to avoid a repeat performance. Apparently the pilot did have an access code for the cockpit, so he was only delayed a few seconds because the co-pilot was having trouble trying to correct the dive.

Edit: The reference I found makes a good story, but is not the same incident referenced in the OP. Maybe this kind of foul-up is a little too common? In any case, it would be interesting to find a reference to the incident mentioned in the OP.

Edit: This is apparently it. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/31/travel/737-officer-asleep-at-controls
The report is brand new, although the incident occurred some time ago. We need more facts to analyze this.
deanhills
SonLight wrote:
Maybe this kind of foul-up is a little too common?
This is indeed an interesting scenario. Glad I was not in that plane!

SonLight wrote:
Edit: This is apparently it. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/31/travel/737-officer-asleep-at-controls
The report is brand new, although the incident occurred some time ago. We need more facts to analyze this.
Agreed. Just feels as though we don't have all of the facts available. There has to be more to it.
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