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Duty periods with early start times restrict the amount of sleep obtained by short-haul airline pilots
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Gregory RoachGregory Roach, Charli SargentCharli Sargent, David DarwentDavid Darwent, Drew DawsonDrew Dawson
Most of the research related to human fatigue in the aviation industry has focussed on long-haul pilots, but short-haul pilots also experience elevated levels of fatigue. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of early start times on the amount of sleep obtained prior to duty and on fatigue levels at the start of duty. Seventy short-haul pilots collected data regarding their duty schedule and sleep/wake behaviour for at least two weeks. Data were collected using self-report duty/sleep diaries and wrist activity monitors. Mixed-effects regression analyses were used to examine the effects of duty start time (04:00–10:00 h) on (i) the total amount of sleep obtained in the 12 h prior to the start of duty and (ii) self-rated fatigue level at the start of duty. Both analyses indicated significant main effects of duty start time. In particular, the amount of sleep obtained in the 12 h prior to duty was lowest for duty periods that commenced between 04:00 and 05:00 h (i.e. 5.4 h), and greatest for duty periods that commenced between 09:00 and 10:00 h (i.e. 6.6 h). These data indicate that approximately 15 min of sleep is lost for every hour that the start of duty is advanced prior to 09:00 h. In addition, self-rated fatigue at the start of duty was highest for duty periods that commenced between 04:00 and 05:00 h, and lowest for duty periods that commenced between 09:00 and 10:00 h. Airlines should implement a fatigue risk management system (FRMS) for short-haul pilots required to work early-morning shifts. One component of the FRMS should be focussed on the production of ‘fatigue-friendly’ rosters. A second component of the FRMS should be focussed on training pilots to optimise sleep opportunities, to identify circumstances where the likelihood of fatigue is elevated, and to manage the risks associated with fatigue-related impairment.
Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)
Number of Pages5
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