Aussie Groups To Study Fatigue

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Qantas, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) and the Center for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia have joined forces to conduct a major study on pilot fatigue. The Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) study will be conducted in three phases, with the aim of discovering the patterns and factors that contribute to drowsiness in the cockpit. In the first phase, volunteer flight crews have kept sleep-wake diaries and worn special activity monitors to obtain data on sleep patterns. In the second phase, in addition to collecting sleep-wake data, research will be undertaken to determine how quickly pilots' body clocks adapt to changes in time zones. In the final phase, pilots will be observed in flight simulators to link real performance measures with predicted fatigue. The research data will be used to develop methods to determine how different flight tasks are affected by fatigue, and then be used to determine pilot rosters, shifts and duty time in the cockpit. "The FRMS has the potential to be the single biggest improvement in the management of pilot fatigue and rostering since flight-time limitations were introduced," said Professor Drew Dawson, director of the Center for Sleep Research.