Ever wonder how pilots rest on long international flights? If you dream of being an international pilot, this will be of interest. Some of the aircraft used for ultra-long flights today, such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing 777, for example, are capable of flying nonstop for as much as 20 hours. Aviation regulatory agencies in different countries have different policies on what is called "crew rest." The FAA, for example, in the U.S. has both a 24 hour and 48 hour minimum requirement for crew rest, depending on the length of the flight and the time on duty. How does this work? Pilots flying these long flights are required to have a 24-hour rest in advance, a 48-hour layover for rest at the destination, and a 24-hour rest period after the return flight before their next flight.
Delta Airlines, for example, assigns two captains and two first officers on such long flights, one crew to fly the plane and the other to take over so the first crew can rest en route. Crew rest in important for safety. Delta uses Boeing 777s with a private sitting-sleeping area for pilots above the cabin, just below the roof of the airplane. There, pilots can change clothes — into pajamas — and get into a bed to sleep or just sit in a comfortable seat and read. It's quiet there and makes for a good rest.
On American Airlines Boeing 777 airplanes to India, a pilot can rest in a seat that is reserved for them in first class or get into a er, walled-off bed area outside the cockpit.
The safety of the entire operation critically depends on pilots and flight attendants being able to get adequate rest on the aircraft during the flight, according to a captain at American Airllines who is on the technical analysis and scheduling committe of the Allied Pilots Association.