Taking Precautions Against Fatigue in Aviation

Taking Precautions Against Fatigue in Aviation

Taking Precautions Against Fatigue in Aviation Pilot fatigue is a significant problem in modern aviation operations, largely because of the unpredictable work hours, long duty periods, circadian disruptions, and insufficient sleep that are commonplace in both civilian and military flight operations. The full impact of fatigue is often underappreciated, but many of its deleterious effects have long been known. Compared to people who are well-rested, people who are sleep deprived think and move more slowly, make more mistakes and have memory difficulties. These negative effects may and do lead to aviation errors and accidents. In the 1930s, flight time limitations suggested lay-over durations, and aircrew sleep recommendations were developed in an attempt to mitigate aircrew fatigue. Unfortunately, there have been few changes to aircrew scheduling provisions and flight time limitations since the time they were first introduced, despite evidence that updates are needed. Although the scientific understanding of fatigue, sleep, shift work, and circadian physiology has advanced significantly over the past several decades, current regulations and industry practices have in large part failed to adequately incorporate the new knowledge.

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