Fatigue is an inevitable risk in aviation. As it cannot be completely eliminated, it must be managed. Data on fatigue and its impact on air transport safety is generally only obtained if there is an incident or accident.
Fatigue is an inevitable risk in aviation where operations are conducted through all hours of the day and sometimes through multiple time zones. As fatigue cannot be completely eliminated, it must be appropriately managed. Fatigue is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (2016) as: …a physiological state of reduced mental or physical performance capability resulting from sleep loss or extended wakefulness, circadian phase, or workload (mental and/or physical activity) that can impair a person’s alertness and ability to perform safety related duties. Three broad aspects of fatigue relevant to aviation include rest obtained, rest opportunity provided, and organisational support.
To provide the air transport industry, regulators and policy makers with further insights into industry perceptions of fatigue, the ATSB conducted a survey of commercial pilots engaged in passenger, freight, and aeromedical operations in the second half of 2016. To understand the reported level of fatigue during normal operations, the survey aimed to discover the amount of sleep and rest obtained by pilots, as well as their perceptions on the length of rests and duty times. The survey also aimed to capture data on the organisational aspects of fatigue, including how pilots feel about removing themselves from duty because of fatigue experienced and how they think management perceive this behaviour.