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Secrets of the cabin crew have been revealed, with whether pilots sleep during long haul flights

Working on long-haul flights can be a taxing one, even for the most experienced of cabin crew.

From constant service to dealing with irate passengers, it is a tricky job to do.

However as flights continue to get longer, with the most recent longest flight a whopping 17 hours, more is expected from both pilots and flight attendants when it comes to working long hours.

One question that many passengers often ask is whether pilots sleep during a long haul flight.

Of course, pilots do sleep on long haul flights, due to the danger it could create if they didn’t rest often.

However, it can vary between the type of plane and the length of the journey.

Aviation website Flightdeckfriend.com explains the concept behind their sleeping patterns, called “controlled rest.” when it is a shorter flight.

It states that controlled rest should be between 10 and 30 minutes so the sleep is a lighter REM cycle, to prevent a deeper sleep which can leave feeling son further tiredness and grogginess.

The website states: “Only one pilot should take controlled rest at a time and that should be in his/her seat but with the seat pulled back away from the controls.

“Once the resting pilot is woken he should avoid operating the controls for at least 15 minutes to ensure he/she has fully awoken and is alert.”

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Pilots sleep during long haul flights with a back up flight crew

All long haul flights have 2 crews: the Operation crew and the Relief crew

Usha Kotipatruni

For extremely long flights, such as the Qatar Airways sixteen-hour flight from Doha to Auckland, there would be two pilots and two first captains to ensure two could sleep whilst two controlled the plane. 

This is done in shifts of four hours in rotation, where they retire to their special bunk areas in the plane or business class seats which are reserved for the crew.

Travel forum Quora also explained how this works between the four cockpit crew members.

User Usha Kotipatruni stated: “All long haul flights have 2 crews: the Operation crew and the Relief crew. 

“The Operation crew essentially takes care of take-off and landings. 

“In-between these phases, during the cruise, the Operation crew can rest, while Relief crew handles the flying.”

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There are two captains and two first officers on long haul flights

The life of a pilot can be a glamorous one but also hides many secrets.

It recently emerged that pilots even have their own escape door.

In the case of an emergency, a secret hatch is in the roof of the cockpit.

It means they can leave the aircraft if the body of the plane has been compromised. 

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