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Fatigue Studies

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(FATIGUE RISK MANAGEMENT SCIENCE Ltd.).- FRMSc will assist a client to conduct fatigue studies or implement the study ourselves. We have extensive experience in conducting ultra long haul, long haul and short haul flights using both subjective and objective data collection for both pilots and cabin crew. We also provide statistical analysis and interpretation of results from our large comparitive databases that hve been compiled over past decades.

Occasionally, it may be necessary to supplement FRMS processes with specific fatigue studies to unequivocally determine levels of fatigue. Examples of when these may be required include the investigation of routes or patterns that are associated with an increased incidence of fatigue reports, the introduction of new routes or aircraft that are associated with significant changes in the work and rest patterns of aircrew. Specifically the advent of Ultra Long Haul routes involving flight times up to 20 hours initially required the companies introducing such routes to monitor the alertness of aircrew during the first few months to build up sufficient evidence of actual alertness levels to prove the theory.

Subjective and Objective Data Collection

The main techniques used during such studies range from the subjective; collection of paper or electronic diaries and/or the objective; monitoring performance at simple tasks on hand held computers or collecting data on wrist movement allowing the monitoring of sleep patterns using actiwatches. It is usual to have a mix of subjective and objective data collection in any study.

In a few studies the collection of brain electrical activity has enabled the monitoring of sleep quality in on-board facilities or the incidence of inadvertent or planned sleeps on the flight deck. Other techniques that have been used include heart rate monitoring, measurement of core body temperature, collection of saliva samples allowing the measurement of melatonin levels and from these levels the calculation of circadian rhythms. Data from on board monitoring systems such as Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) has also been used to investigate fatigue in aircrew.

Diaries

The subjective data collected from aircrew diaries relate to the duty and sleep periods. Details of the flight include the timing and departure and arrival airports. For long haul duties this allows calculation of time zone changes and for short haul duties the number of sectors and early starts and late finishes are of particular interest. As well as collecting data on sleep quality and quantity after flights, data is also collected on sleep taken on board the aircraft in bunks or seats. The aircrew are also required to give a self-assessment of alertness at various times during the flight using scales such as the Samn-Perelli.

Actiwatches

These devices use a three axis accelerometer to collect wrist movements at set intervals such as once a minute. During sleep activity is reduced or absent and at the end of the monitoring period the data is downloaded and the actual sleep periods can be calculated and compared with the sleep reported in the diaries. The data captured is objective data.

Performance monitoring

Simple tests that last a few minutes can be administered on hand held devices and the effect of fatigue on reaction time or simple tracking can be followed objectively.

The objective of each fatigue study and the organisational culture will usually define the mix of objective and subjective data collection methods. Please contact us to explore the right combination for your planned study.

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