Fatigue on Pilots in Aviation Industry


Research indicates that fatigue has a great impact on the human resource in the aviation industry especially the pilots; this impact is recorded to be the leading factor in the failure of the pilots’ attention and performance while carrying out their duties. Fatigue is defined as a result of an individual being attacked by chronic stress making an individual lose his or her memory and thus it leads to poor concentration at work. Many people associate this condition with inadequate sleep and also one being worn out. This condition appears in two forms, that is, through the lack of enough rest that eventually leads to disorders related to sleeping and what the medics refer to as circadian rhythm disturbance.


Research indicates that fatigue occurring on pilots in the aviation industry is reported to be the main cause of accidents in this industry; this statement is usually approved when in times of accidents we find the blame and error is always put on the pilot. Therefore, this study will focus on the occurrence of fatigue on pilots and its impact on the aviation industry. It will also indicate that there is usually a relationship between fatigue and the safety of human resources in the aviation industry (Folkard, 2002). We can therefore state that many accidents occurring in the aviation industry are caused by fatigue in the pilots.

Research indicates that the occurrence of fatigue on pilots in the aviation industry is usually related to the individuals’ reaction towards particular factors surrounding operations in the aviation industry. These factors may include long working hours as well as several duty shifts. Fatigue carries a number of effects such as physiological and routine penalties to the human resource. The reason for these happenings is that the pilots have the obligation to be alert and participative during their duties whose aim is to ensure that the travel is safe and secure from all the travelling dangers. For the pilots to ensure that there is safety in the travelling they should be keen on their actions and their strategies for communication as well as being attentive (Dawnson, 1997).

Recently it was reported that the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was able to carryout research on matters related to the safety in the aviation industry through which the board was able to consider the major accidents that occurred between the years 1970 to 2000 in America. In this study we find that one of the major causes of aircraft accidents in the aviation industry is fatigue. Looking at the study it states that this fatigue occurs as a result of inadequate sleep and rest by the pilots who are always reported to be working for long hours without rest (Orlady, 2005).

These pilots may not be able to know that they are exhausted and sleepy because they are always busy and also they are influenced by the presence of a number of incentives such as noise, communication between the crew and even body movements. They can only recognize fatigue after and before working, as they report to their duties the pilots start loosing concentration and they end up sleeping and at the end of the day causing aircraft accidents (Printup, 2000).

Project Outcomes

This study will discuss on the issue covering the relationship between the fatigue and safety in the aviation industry, it will also be in a position to discuss the factors that lead to the occurrence of fatigue among the pilots and the crew members in the aviation industry that leads to the occurrence of aircraft accidents. It will also show how the pilots are affected by the negative effects of fatigue. This research will be enlightening the pilots and other employees in the aviation industry on the issue of fatigue. Through this study, the managers in the aviation industry will learn and implement policies that will be suitable for them to handle this issue of fatigue thus enhancing safety in the industry (Orlady, 2005).

From this study, we can therefore say that fatigue is one of the challenges in the aviation industry that is affecting pilots and other employees in this industry. We can therefore recommend that the aviation industry should come up with favorable regulations that will enable its employees to enjoy their working; such regulations may include the implementation of resting times and also working shifts for the pilots (Folkard, 2002).

Why I am interested in this project?

The main interest of this research is to figure out how fatigue and safety in the aviation industry are related, thus considering its effects particularly on the pilots and other employees in the industry. This study will cover the causes, effects on the aviation industry and the preventive measures that need to be implemented to control the issue.

What are the key questions the project attempts to answer?

The research questions for this study will be as follows;

  • Is fatigue related to the occurrence of accidents in the aviation industry?
  • What are the leading contributors to the occurrence of fatigue?
  • What are the symptoms that accompany this issue of fatigue?
  • Are the pilots affected by fatigue allowed to go on with their duties in the industry?
  • What preventive measures and policies are to be applied to curb this issue of fatigue in the aviation industry?

What Research Methods do you intend to use?

Research Design

The methodology design to be applied in this study is the descriptive design, which will lead to the attainment of the goals of the study. This method will be able to come up with the characteristics of the targeted population and how the issue of fatigue influences the aviation industry.

What primary and/or secondary data sources do you intend to use?

The target population for this study will be 50 pilots operating in the United States of America who will be provided with questionnaires through they will be required to respond to the questions and air out their opinions on the effect of fatigue on their profession. The reason for choosing this population is that they provide the researcher with the primary data needed for the research analysis, also they are always exposed to the aviation industry and they are aware of the challenges facing them in their duties.

Literature Review


Research indicates that fatigue has been recognized as one of the issues leading to most employees in organizations especially those in the aviation industry not performing well and thus causing losses both to the organization and the consumers at large. Fatigue is one of the challenges that the aviation industry is facing especially when it occurs on the pilots, this has been clearly stated in many studies carried as one of the causes of aircraft accidents in this industry (Dawnson, 2001). There are still many people raising their concerns on this fact of fatigue and its impact on the pilots’ safety, performance and accidents as he or she carries on their duties. Recent studies have been able to bring various issues related to the cause of fatigue on the pilots and they are as follows; stress that comes up as a result of both internal and external environments in the organization who harass and complain to the pilots about their performance and this happens to be experienced on a daily basis to the pilots (Boser, 2002).


For this study, a sample of 50 Pilots will be selected from the whole population. The researcher will use the national register to identify the respondents from different airlines. Therefore, a systematic sampling procedure will be utilized in selecting the one thousand respondents (population) from airlines identified. Under the systematic sampling technique, the items or individuals of the population will be arranged in some manner. Therefore fifty pilots will be administered with the questionnaires and will be expected to fill and return them in a span of not more than two weeks.

Data Collection Methods

Data will be collected using a questionnaire technique, which will have:

  • Closed-ended
  • Open-ended questionnaires

Further, the questionnaires will be divided into two sections as follows; the first section will be that of general questions, which will help the respondents grasp the whole idea of the research that will be carried out. The second part will be that of questions regarding fatigue, airline safety and their relationships.

Data Analysis Techniques

Once the data is collected the researcher will utilize the applications of Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) in order to group the data into meaningful subsets by way of descriptive statistics, which will give clear and conclusive deductions. Thus data collected will be analyzed using percentages and means and presentation will be in the form of tables and pie charts to show the effect that variable fatigue has on airline safety as indicated by the respondents. Such techniques utilized will be self-explanatory and will represent the response rates as well as the variables that the study will be considering.

Gantt chart

The following schedule will be followed by the researcher during the research study:

Time (weeks) Activity undertaken
1-2 Researching on the statement of the problem
3-4 Reviewing existing literature on Motivation
5 Distributing questionnaires
6-7 Collecting questionnaires, meeting with the supervisor
8 Analyzing data
9 Presentation of the project

List of References

Boser, R. 2002. Human Error vs. Airborne Terrorism. Web.

Dawnson, D. 1997. Cabin safety and hours of work: developing a general risk-control model. Centre for Sleep Research. Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Woodville- South Australia.

Dawson, D. 2001. Field-Based Evaluations of a Work-Related Fatigue Model Based on Hours of Work. Transportation Research: Part F

Folkard, S. 2002. Work Hours of Aircraft Maintenance Personnel Civil Aviation Authority: CAA Paper

Orlady,. O. 2005. Human Factors in Multi-Crew Flight Operations Chapter 9 NTSB: A-97-71

Printup,. M. 2000. The Effects of Fatigue on Performance and Safety. Web.

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