Rebecca was a 24-year-old pilot with a year of experience. She was living in Seattle, Washington, and commuting to Newark, New Jersey. Continental Flight 3407 operated by Colgan Air Inc. Rebecca had three days off before the flight. After her days off, she apparently commuted through the night from Seattle by riding FedEx flights to get to Newark.
Colgan Air, the regional airline Shaw worked for, told investigators that Rebecca Shaw did not "reserve adequate time to travel from her home to her base in order to ensure she was properly rested and fit for duty." This apparent revelation is stimulating public concern over pilot fatigue. Watch hearing concerning crew fatigue »
Fatigue has been associated with 250 fatalities in air carrier accidents during the last 16 years. (Robert Sumwalt, NTSB vice chairman at a FAA July symposium.) On the other hand, pilot
Capt. Marvin Renslow, 47, who had been flying for Colgan for over three years. He had a day off before piloting Flight 3407; however. the NTSB investigation apparently found he slept in the Newark Airport crew lounge, against Colgan Air regulations.
Federal Aviation Administration guidelines set the number of hours a pilot can work and how many hours he or she must rest before flying. The rules have remained unchanged since the 1940s. FAA regulations for regional and major airlines limit pilots to eight hours of flying during a 24-hour period. After a shift, the pilot should have had at least nine hours of consecutive rest during the 24-hour period. Pilots are limited to 100 hours of flying in a calendar month and 1,000 hours a year. While these rules sound good, they may not be enough. Closer scrutiny into pilot fatigue has become a must. Whether pilot fatigue played a role in the crash of Flight 3407 may never be known. Nevertheless, stricter rest guidelines certainly can't hurt.