The union that represents pilots at Southwest Airlines Co. says rising rates of fatigue among pilots is a threat to the airline’s safety. In a letter to top Southwest executives that it released publicly Tuesday, the union said it has seen a sharp rise in pilot reports of fatigue since last summer as the airline has ramped its schedule up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’number-one safety threat,”the union wrote. The union said there has been a sharp increase in the rate of pilots turning down flying because they are fatigued, as well as a rising number of reports to a voluntary safety reporting program that includes airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration, and pilots, showing “errors that can be directly correlated to fatigue.”
(later in article) Southwest said it has systems in place that don’t allow it to schedule crew without their required 10 hours of rest. “If there are instances where pilots were unable to obtain eight hours of sleep within that 10-hour window, we will review those circumstances and respond,” a Southwest spokeswoman said. Crews have faced hourslong waits to find hotels when disruptions such as weather throw operations into turmoil—something that was an issue earlier this month for multiple airlines after storms roiled operations in Florida.
Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal - April 13