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Pilot fatigue must be addressed, NTSB says

WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- Recent incidents involving sleepy pilots show a need to address pilot fatigue and the length of pilots' shifts, the U.S. federal transportation watchdog said.

The National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend that federal aviation regulators and airlines use fatigue studies to overhaul rules governing how long pilots can fly legally, USA Today reported. Current law permits pilots to work up to 16 hours a day, including up to eight hours behind the controls.

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"It's an insidious issue," NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said. "Many times the pilots themselves don't recognize that they are fatigued when they get into that cockpit."

One instance the NTSB cited was when two airline pilots feel asleep over Hawaii in February, flying past their destination toward open water. A second was a 2007 crash on a snowy runway in Traverse City, Mich., which inspectors said probably was triggered by fatigue.

The safety board has sought pilot work rules reform for years, USA Today said, failing in its attempts because of opposition from airlines and pilot groups.

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