Author Background

Rajee Olaganathan, Ph.D. – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide

Timothy Holt, Ph.D. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott

Jacqueline Luedtke, Ph.D. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott

Brent Bowen, Ph.D. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott


Abstract Fatigue is a significant contributing factor that reduces human ability and leads to accidents and threatens the safety of aircraft and human lives. Approximately 70% of fatal accidents that occur in commercial aviation operations are due to human factors. More specifically, crew fatigue contributes to nearly 15 to 20% of the accidents (Akerstedt, 2000). These accidents and incidents are associated with pilot fatigue because of the long duty periods, disruption of circadian rhythms, and inadequate sleep that are common among both commercial and military pilots. Though fatigue is seen in all the disciplines associated with the aviation industry, this paper will discuss only pilot fatigue. Based on the literature examined, this paper first defines fatigue, examines the significance of the problem, discusses what is fatigue, its types and causes, discusses fatigue-related accidents and incidents, examines fatigue in different flight operations and its impact on the wellbeing of pilots, investigates the in-flight and pre-/post-flight countermeasures (both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods) practiced at present, and discusses the fatigue risk management system (FRMS)—in this it defines FRMS, briefly discusses its history, describes the organizational structure of FRMS, its process, and its operation in the aviation industry, merits and demerits of FRMS, and its future applications. The paper finally concludes with some recommendations for future research/study in this discipline.