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Long-haul pilots use in-flight napping as a countermeasure to fatigue
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Gregory Roach, Drew Dawson, T Sletten, David Darwent
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of fatigue on the amount of in-flight sleep obtained by airline pilots during long-haul duty periods. A total of 301 pilots collected sleep/wake and work/rest data for a period of at least 2 weeks each. Fatigue likelihood, i.e. low, moderate, high, or extreme, was estimated for each duty period based on a pilot’s sleep/wake behaviour prior to duty and the time of day that the duty period occurred. Participants obtained 1.8 h of sleep (i.e. 27% of their rest time) during duty periods with low fatigue likelihood and 3.7 h of sleep (i.e. 54% of their rest time) during duty periods with extreme fatigue likelihood. These results indicate that (i) long-haul pilots obtain substantially more sleep during duty periods when fatigue is likely to be extreme than when fatigue is likely to be low and (ii) long-haul pilots use in-flight napping as a fatigue countermeasure, but more could be done to increase its efficacy.