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From the Fatigue Risk Management Committee - 8/12/16
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From the Fatigue Risk Management Committee - 8/12/16

 

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Throughout our careers, we’ve heard numerous times the importance of getting adequate rest and the impact fatigue can have on our ability to perform our job effectively and safely. Still, many of us wouldn’t be surprised to learn a fellow crewmember flew while fatigued. Several years ago, your MEC established the Fatigue Risk Management Committee in an effort to help combat this issue and educate our pilots on recognizing and monitoring their own level of fatigue.

While this is certainly not a new topic of conversation, we intend to launch a series of articles from this committee that may help shed some new light on fatigue-related items that you may not have thought of before. I encourage you to read these articles and provide feedback where you see fit. Below is our first article on this important topic—continue to remain engaged for additional articles as we move forward

John Cardaci
MEC Vice Chairman


Night Hub Turn Sleep Strategies for New Hires
FedEx and FedEx ALPA jointly collected sleep data from pilots hub turning through IND and AFW in 2014–15. This study showed some common sleep strategies and we would like to pass them along. Please discuss these strategies with other pilots—ask them what works for them and any other tips they may have.

Layover Sleep

We recommend you find a room that suits you best at each layover hotel. For example, you may like a room that faces west or north (less sunlight). You may like a room that does not face traffic. A room with good window-darkening curtains is important. A room that will be cool enough for your individual needs is also important. Earplugs and sleep masks are good sleep enhancers, if they work for you. A “white noise” generator may also help reduce the number of times you are awakened by noise outside your room. Free apps supported by your company iPad are available.

Be sure to ask for specific rooms at check in. If you like room 310, ask for it. FedEx spends a lot of money on hotel rooms; usually, the front desk staff will be helpful with your room requests.

Three Sleeping Periods

A large group of pilots chose this strategy. They will sleep upon arrival at a layover hotel, wake for much of the day, nap prior to show time, and then sleep again during the hub turn.

A number of factors could influence a pilot to choose three sleep periods: the scheduled arrival and layover times allow for a nap; the individual may have a strong secondary window of circadian low (SWOCL), which is indicated by a person who naps regularly, at work or at home; and a nap prior to departure does not have a negative affect on their hub turn sleep.

Two Sleeping Periods

Another large group of pilots chose this strategy. These pilots will sleep longer upon arrival at layover hotel, maximizing the amount of sleep they can get after each hub turn duty period. Their next sleep will be during the hub turn. We found that pilots quickly fell asleep when they lay down in their darkened sleep room. We also found that approximately two hours of sleep was available for 3:30 hub turns (block in to block out).

One Sleeping Period

A very small minority of pilots acquired all their sleep in a 24-hour period in one sleep. Often, these pilots would arrive at their layover relatively early and sleep for seven or more hours. These pilots had a schedule that did not allow for hub-turn sleep, or they chose not to sleep during the hub turn. We do not recommend this strategy. If you are delayed arriving at your layover, or your pairing is changed, you may have an extended awake period. Science has proven that being awake for over 18 hours decreases reaction times and other physical capabilities.

Summary
Regardless of your sleep strategy, the goal is to maintain a rolling seven to nine hours of sleep in a 24-hour period to minimize the effects of accumulated sleep debt. Typically, a nap in the hub helps most pilots maintain a higher level of alertness during critical duty periods than is possible without a nap. A high number of consecutive hours awake combined with your circadian cycle can produce strong sleep impulses during the arrival phase of flight (0600-0800 body clock).

If you see yourself landing with less than five hours of total sleep in the last 24 hours, this should be a “red flag/threat.” Please bring this up to the other pilot you are flying with. You may be fatigued, and science has proven we are not the best at judging our own fatigue levels.

Rest Easy,

Pat Hagerty
Fatigue Risk Management Committee Chairman

FAA I'M SAFE Checklist
Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Emotion (Eating)

 

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