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Research Project

Correlates of FTL, Fatigue, Employment Conditions and

Pilot Health & Wellbeing


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Ph. D. Research Project at the Institute for Clinical Psychology, University of Bern

Mag. rer. nat. Marion Venus, Clinical and Aviation Psychologist, Pilot, Ph. D. Candidate

Prof. Dr. Martin grosse Holtforth,

University of Bern
Institute for Clinical Psychology

Fabrikstrasse 8
3012 Bern


Research on shift work and work psychology showed, that fatigue is not only a an acute threat to pilot performance and aviation safety. Fatigue can also impair mental and physical health in the medium and long term. We know very little, why and how that happens with airline pilots, which role precarious employment conditions and flight time limitations play in this complex interactive system, that’s merely driven by economic needs of operators today.

The EASA FRM FTL workshop on May 24th, 2018 showed, that even complying with the present rules and regulations (FTL, …) doesn’t guarantee safe flight operations, nor can present rules prevent pilot fatigue. Operators are putting the lives of their pilots at risk, when they push the limits of productivity, even exceeding the insufficient flight time limitations in force today.

In the first part of the study we have a look at the overall situation, comparing the good and the precarious working conditions and their correlates (kind of “effects”) on pilot health and wellbeing.

In the second part of my research we will have a closer look at the course of fatigue and recovery over several days on and off duty, as possible, using a very sophisticated (developed for astronauts in space for their health supervision) tool called ChronoCord (24-hours-HRV-measurement), combined with psychological questionnaires. This will accomplish a much higher level of validity and reliability of scientific data/evidence, compared to very low level data quality attained in former studies using e.g. supermarket-actiwatches (like Clockwork Research). 


December 2018
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