Flight Attendant Over Worked, Safety Issue

A regional airline flight from Jackson, MS to Dallas Ft. Worth:

The flight was running three hours late all day long due to weather. They had already flown four legs by the time they got to Jackson, MS. While boarding the aircraft they were told by flight control that they were on a ground hold for at least an hour. The crew had already worked from this point close to 14 hours at this point. Although that is already a long day, the crew can only be scheduled for no more than 14 hours, but can work up to 16 hours. This flight plan was also going to take the crew over the 8-hour max flight time per day. At the time, they were already at 6.5 hours. The flight crew was handed an original flight plan that would take them south of Texas to avoid the weather that was on the eastern side of Dallas Ft. Worth. The flight time was going to take the crew over the 16-hour duty rule.

 

Then after the ground hold was lifted they received another flight plan, which basically had the flight going almost directly to Dallas Ft. Worth, which cut the flight almost in half. The flight crew was very exhausted by this point, but flight controller insisted that the flight would be less and that it would be within the 16-hour duty period. The flight crew decided to continue the flight regardless of how tired and hungry they were. Because they had been trying to play catch up all day, the crew didn’t get any decent meal to eat. Basically snacked on what was served on the flight which was crackers.

After the flight took off, they received a new trip plan and were told to go around the weather, going south almost to Mexico then go back north to Dallas Ft. Worth. The revised trip plan added over an hour more of flight. Basically they got the trip plan that was originally given to them. The trip plan was taken away and revised just so the flight would depart, then once in the air you could issue the trip plan again. This was just another way to go around the FAA rules.

Lucky for the crew and the passengers, the trip went well and the flight landed safely in Dallas Ft. Worth. The flight crew who should not fly more than an 8-hour a day max ended up flying just over 9 hours. The total duty of the crew was not to exceed 16 hours; the crew worked for almost 18 hours.

Lets recap the situation:

The crew worked for four days straight, each day was a long day with an average of 10 hours at an overnight. An average of about 7 hours of sleep a night. Barely have enough time to get any nutritional food to eat. On the fourth day, they were running three hours behind due to weather and were playing catch up all day. They had already worked 6.5 hour of flight time and a total duty of almost 14 hours when they got to Jackson, MS. The night was very late at 10:00p.m. They were getting fatigue from having a long day. And taking that flight brought them over their max both for flight time and total duty day. Thank goodness this flight ended up landing safely, but how safe do you really think the flight crew were while they were operating this million dollar aircraft, trying to navigate through weather at almost midnight? Yes, this might have had a very happy ending, but every now and then some flights don’t turn out this lucky.