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.
As congestion increases, avoiding collisions between aircraft and birds is becoming a more pressing issue. The Indian Air Force, which conducts many operational and training flights and often at very low level, attributes around 10 percent of accidents to bird hits. It took the lead last year by issuing global bids to four companies for 45 bird detection and monitoring radar systems (BDRS) to be installed at airports and air bases across India.
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.
Jeppesen introduced an improved version of its CrewAlert mobile app that helps aircraft crewmembers deal with fatigue risk management. The updated app can instantly calculate a strategy from up to 900,000 sleep patterns and light exposure combinations to increase crew alertness and overall flight safety. It also contains built-in scientific mitigation strategies automatically calculated to fit to the roster and individual settings such as individual sleep requirements and commute times, among others.
The threat of food-borne illness at 41,000 feet is all too real, and one the business aviation industry takes all too lightly, says Paula Kraft, a principal with Aviation Catering Consultants (ACC) of Atlanta.
According to in-flight medical emergency services specialist MedAire, 60 percent of its calls are related to gastrointestinal illnesses. That number leaves no doubt that food-handling standards should be just as rigorous as those that apply to aircraft maintenance, asserts Kraft.
International flight crews share a never-ending need for a good night’s rest. Now there’s a proven link between exercise in moderation and sleep quality. A new report from the National Sleep Foundation studied 1,000 adults between ages 23 and 60 and found that those who exercised in the seven days before the survey reported better quality of sleep than those who did not. Surprisingly, both groups averaged about the same number of hours of total rest–just short of seven.
This month, I’m turning my blog space over to the reader who submitted the following letter to our magazine.—Jeff Burger, editor of AIN sister publication Business Jet Traveler
An Open Letter to the Editors of Business Jet Traveler:
Jeppesen plans to conduct an industry-wide survey in April to collect airline pilot and cabin crew fatigue data. The study will be conducted in collaboration with sleep and performance scientists, using the Jeppesen CrewAlert iPhone app to collect data directly from crewmembers. The study will advance understanding on how crew fatigue issues develop in an operational setting, Jeppesen said.
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.”
London-based RDT, a telemedicine products specialist, has introduced its new Tempus IC, a small, lightweight remote medical “assistant” that RDT claims will transmit information doctors need to identify up to 90 percent of conditions remotely.