Pilot Fatigue

Essay by bronk33College, UndergraduateB, May 2010

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Pilot Flight Time, Rest, and Fatigue

To understand fatigue, four interpretations must be considered. Firstly, it may reflect inadequaterest. It may refer to symptoms associated with disturbed or displaced biological rhythms, whichare often described by the sufferer as jet lag. Thirdly, it may be interpreted as excessive muscular or physical activity- perhaps working too hard and long in the garden or skiing all day in the snow. Finally, it could result when minimal physical activity has occurred but, as in preparation for an examination, excessive cognitive work has been undertaken.

FAA Regulations. In the commercial aviation industry, ensuring that all pilots receive adequate rest is key to maintaining a safe aviation system. Airplanes operate globally in 24 time zones. Domestic short leg, multi-leg, and long-haul flights all present challenges. Thanks to aircraft engineering, planes are able to fly much further than they were able to in the past. Fatigue regulations govern passenger airlines and charter operations, though not identically.

They do not apply to general aviation, including corporate fleets. The regulations have been in place with little change since the 1940s, according to the FAA. Since many air carriers fly non-stop long-range flights, the FAA continues to evaluate the latest research on the effects of time zone changes on circadian rhythm and time zone changes to mitigate pilot fatigue. The FAA continues to be at the forefront of raising awareness of fatigue and mitigation techniques (FAA Fact Sheet, 2010). The FAA last proposed updating the rules in 1995 but, based on industry comments, the rule was not adopted. Since then, the agency has reiterated the rules and kept pace with a changing industry by allowing airlines to use the latest fatigue mitigation techniques to enhance safety. Ultimately, the proposal will incorporate the latest sleep and fatigue science-including how...