Accidents Involving Fatigue

The list of accidents and serious incidents where fatigue has been identified as a causal factor is long (see below). Even when fatigue is not the main cause, it is often recognised as a contributing factor that affects the crew's ability to react appropriately to a specific situation. Below are a few examples of accidents/incidents where fatigue was mentioned as a factor.

European Airlines claim that EU law does not have to change as fatigue has not killed passengers in Europe so far. They state that their 'operational experience' does not give reason for concern.

However, fatigue does cost lives. Pilot fatigue played a role in many fatal accidents :

  • 1993 Kalitta International, DC-8-61F at Guantanamo Bay;
  • 1994 Air Algerie, 737-200F at Coventry, UK;
  • 1997 Korean Air, 747-300 at Guam;
  • 1999 American Airlines, MD-82 at Little Rock, USA;
  • 2001 Crossair, BAe146 at Zurich, Switzerland;
  • 2002 AgcoCorp, Challenger 604 at Birmingham, UK;
  • 2004 MK Airlines, 747-200F at Halifax;
  • 2004 Corporate Airlines, BAeJetstream31 at Kirksville, USA;
  • 2004 Med Air, Learjet35A at San Bernadino, California;
  • 2005 Loganair, B-N Islander at Machrihanish, UK;

... and continues to do so:

  • 2006, 27th Aug, Comair, CRJ100 at Lexington KY: both controller and pilots judged fatigued
  • 2007, 25th June, Cathay Pacific 747F, ground collision at Stockholm Arlanda. Swedish investigator said fatigue was a factor (crews awake 18-20hrs; incident at 03:30 a.m.);
  • 2007, 28th Oct, JetX, 737-800TF-JXF serious runway excursion at Keflavik airport, Iceland;
  • 2009, 12th Feb, Colgan, Dash8-Q400 at Buffalo, USA, 2 pilots seriously fatigued, 50 killed;
  • 2010, 22nd May, Air India Express, Boeing 737-800, Mangalore, India, Captain slept large part of the flight, woke up shortly before landing and unable to prevent a runway excursion, 158 people killed.

Fatigue Recognised in MK Airlines Accident

Fatigue contributed to another seven fatalities in an accident occurred in Halifax on 14 Oct 2004, during the takeoff. One of the causal factors identified by the investigation was human error, caused by the crew being fatigued.

Runway Excursion at Keflavik

On 28 Oct 2007, a Boeing 737-800 was unable to stop before the end of the runway (runway excursion). There were luckily no injuries to report. The investigation concluded that fatigue was an important causal factor. Indeed, due to delays at the departing airport (Antalya), the flight duty period was extended until 17 hours 20 minutes, instead of a maximum of 16 hours and the crew did not get adequate rest between the two flights.

Aeroplane Crashes in Zürich

On 24 Nov 2001, an aeroplane operated by Crossair crashed during its approach to Zurich airport. 24 people died (out of 33 occupants). As one of the causes the report states that "the commander's ability to concentrate and take appropriate decisions as well as his ability to analyse complex processes were adversely affected by fatigue".