India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced support for periods of controlled cockpit rest for pilots. In an August 15 operations circular, the DGCA calls the naps, which are to be allowed on flights of at least three hours, “effective fatigue mitigation tools.”
Humans, by our very nature, are daytime creatures. Our brains and our bodies have been hardwired for this, and not even the fairly recent (in evolutionary terms) innovation of artificial light can change hundreds of thousands of years of development. In response to darkness, our brains produce a chemical known as melatonin, which makes us sleepy, yet these days we are far removed from the agrarian “get up when it’s light out, go to bed when it’s dark” lifestyle of just a few centuries ago.
Despite improved crew rest stations on airline and business aviation aircraft today, concerns about pilot fatigue will never disappear entirely. In association with NBAA, California-based fatigue specialists Alertness Solutions has developed for flight departments a downloadable guide called The Alert Crew. It outlines the top issues time-zone-jumping crewmembers should regularly consider to remain at peak performance.
The FAA’s recent reinterpretation of crew rest guidance sparked a vigorous discussion at the Flight Safety Foundation Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar in San Antonio last week.
FOCUS on…SAFETY “Fatigue in the aviation industry has been on the NTSB’s Top 10 Most-Wanted list for two decades,” Mark Rosekind told a Heli-Expo audience on Saturday morning. “It still makes up six of our top 10 fears today.”