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Research Project
Correlates of FTL, Fatigue, Employment Conditions and Pilot Wellbeing

Next step: Comparison of working conditions, fatigue, health and wellbeing with other professionals (shift-workers, non-shift-workers) like ATCO, cabin crew, physicians, transport, others ...

Click here to start the online survey: http://pilot-survey.venus-aviation.ch

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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
Switzerland

Research 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. Shift workers seem to be particularly at risk for sleep deprivation and fatigue, while very little research focused on correlates in mental health and wellbeing.

Commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, physicians are a very resilient group of high performers. So far little is known, why and how precarious employment conditions, long and irregular shifts, flight time limitations and fatigue play in this complex interactive system.

The EASA FRM FTL workshop 2018 showed, that even complying with the present FTL rules and regulations doesn’t guarantee safe flight operations. Nor can present FTL effectively prevent pilot fatigue. Operators are putting the health and safety of their pilots at risk, even legally allowed to exceed the present insufficient flight time limitations.

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. 

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