Updated: May 23
What is Pilot's Fatigue?
Fatigue is a general lack of alertness and degradation in mental and physical performance, and can affect pilot alertness, performance, and judgment during flight. Pilot fatigue has been documented as early as 1927 when Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic Ocean.
Causes of Pilot’s Fatigue
Here are some common causes of pilot’s fatigue:
Inadequate sleep due to biological clock disruptions, such as flying through different time zones or working nightshifts.
Night flights or early morning report times that occur during normal hours of sleep
The requirement to sleep during daylight hours
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
Mental boredom associated with long-haul flights
Stress, anxiety, or depression
Poor nutrition or illness
While companies and organizations, including the FAA, have regulations in place to help manage and avoid fatigue, it is still the responsibility of the pilot to take specific steps to ensure they are not battling fatigue while also trying to fulfill their duties.
Here are some things you can do off duty or outside flight hours:
Get at least 8 hours of sleep every 24 hours
Practice good sleep hygiene techniques to ensure good quality of sleep
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy balanced diet
Learn about and practice stress-reduction techniques to fight stress-induced fatigue
Try cutting out long commutes to work
There are also some techniques you can do during flight hours or while on duty that will help to fight off fatigue or prevent it completely:
Rotate flight tasks
Alternate period of activity and relaxation during long flights
Schedule frequent short breaks
Try pre-planning naps
Sources: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/Fatigue_Aviation.pdf http://aviationknowledge.wikidot.com/aviation:pilot-fatigue