4 mins read

Flight Experience And Fatigue, Reducing Risk

Most people are well aware of the risks of driving when half asleep. Part of this is just that people spend so much time behind the wheel. It’s not always easy to see the effects of tired driving. But when repeated a few thousand times the lesson will eventually be made clear. And one will begin to notice the occasional micro-nap or seconds where eyelids obscure the road.

But something people are far less aware of is the fact that it happens with flying too. In fact, there’s quite a few issues involved with flying at less than one’s best. This can encompass a number of different issues. Anything from not having enough sleep to one’s endurance running low due to too long spent on duty. There are several ways to help mitigate risk for this in pilots. And there are even more positive changes under review at the moment. Things aren’t perfect at the moment. But the industry is trying to improve.

Anyone who’s made it through part 135 online aviation training will probably raise an eyebrow at one specific aspect of the industry. Official discussions such as within the context of Part 135 online aviation training tends to talk about things in an idealized way. Take FDP for example. FDP, or flight duty period, should take fatigue into consideration. But most people who know pilots can attest to the fact that it’s often more true in theory than practice.

It’s true that aviation tends to have a fair amount of red tape. But nobody can see that situation and not want to do something about it. And there are efforts to do so. One of the most significant is something called FRMS or fatigue risk management systems. One nice thing about FRMS is that there are several different motivations which should keep people interested in maximizing their effectiveness.

Of course simple altruism is the greatest motivating force for proper fatigue risk management systems. Human lives are possibly the most important thing in the entire world. And not just one’s ability to keep his heart beating. Living, quality of life, is nearly as important. People who value that in themselves want to ensure it for others as well. If for nothing else than with an assumption that others will do the same in return. Protecting a pilot from pushing himself too hard saves him from that pain. But it also reduces risks for everyone who relies on the pilot. In fact, this even goes as far as to the people who develop policy. Their livelihood depends on being able to safely deliver a service to people.

But pilots also need to take an active role in fatigue risk management systems. The people who set policy are typically quite distant from the pilot. And they’re only going to know something is wrong if someone steps up to inform him of that fact. As such a pilot should be honest with himself about his general level of fatigue. He should also consider whether his on duty hours are interfering with overall performance. Are those hours causing him to miss out on sleep? Does the job create conditions where his colleges are also unfit for work?

It can sometimes feel like a violation to actively bring this matters up to one’s employer. It can feel as if one is admitting failures or trying to sabotage a coworker. But fatigue risk management systems are in place for good reason. And their flaws only become addresed when people are actively providing feedback on their effectiveness. If a system isn’t working than the people putting them into effect need to know about that fact.