Fatigue cited as a contributing factor to Empire Airlines accident
A US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report into a 2009 Empire Airlines ATR 42 accident at Lubbock, Texas has cited fatigue as a contributing factor.
The NTSB determined that “the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew’s failure to monitor and maintain a minimum safe airspeed while executing an instrument approach in icing conditions, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall at low altitude.”
However, fatigue due to the time of day was cited as a contributory factor. The accident occurred at 04:37, during the Window of Circadian Low (WOCL – 0200-0600), a period during the day when due to circadian rhythms, alertness and performance are at a minimum.
The report concluded that the captain’s performance was impacted by fatigue, due to operating during the WOCL and a cumulative sleep debt. The first officer, however, took steps to mitigate the effects of fatigue due to operating during the WOCL, and her errors during the flight have been attributed to lack of experience rather than fatigue.
Read the Report here: Empire Airlines Flight 8284 Report