Comparison of Two Articles: Stress and Fatigue in Civil Aviation Pilots
Table of Contents
The two studies that were chosen for analysis are “Flight crew stress and fatigue in low-cost commercial air operations – an appraisal” by S. Bennett published in the International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management in 2003 and “Stressors and stress coping strategies among civil pilots: a pilot study” by S. Leo Jeeva, and V. Chandramohan published in the Independent Journal of Aerospace Medicine in 2008. Both studies are devoted to the research of stress and fatigue in civil aviation pilots including stress identification, management, and development of effective training programs that might improve the situation with stress in the industry. This issue is extremely important because in current labor reality most civil pilots, especially those who work for low-cost carriers frequently experience stress and fatigue, which is a direct threat to flight safety and, as a result, the safety of passengers. The level of flight safety concerns everyone because there is hardly a person in the modern society who has never flown by aircraft at least once in life. This paper investigates the two selected studies devoted to stress and fatigue identification and management in civil aviation pilots; the comparative analysis is applied in order to determine the credibility of the research in both articles as well as the extent of usefulness and contribution that each of them makes to the respective field.
Summary of Study 1
Bennett’s “Flight crew stress and fatigue in low-cost commercial air operations – an appraisal” (2003) is devoted to testing the hypothesis that civil pilots who work for low-cost carriers are subjected to constant stress and fatigue because of regulations set by their employers. Under the economic stressors, such as terrorist attacks, high incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and other factors influencing pilots’ job, it is important to address the issue of pilot’s overloading responsibly and promptly. In particular, Bennett states that they are pilots who carry passengers, and therefore, “deliver the product”, so their opinion and suggestions might be very insightful and able to produce real change to the current state of events (Bennett, 2003). The independent variables that were used for this research were whether or not low-cost carriers’ desire to maximize profit on account of intensifying job for pilots influences their level of stress, fatigue, and health condition. The dependent variable concerned rostering, short (25-minute) turnaround, hotel and eating arrangements, and travel-to-work time with domestic arrangements as major sources of fatigue and stress for pilots. The author used ethnographic method of research to test data that was obtained from participant observation, interviewing, and from documentary sources. The study used within-subjects design utilizing three methods to obtain information from a certain group of people (civil pilots). The author concludes the article with stating at least 7 observations that might be driven out of the research: pilots had evident symptoms of fatigue and stress, such as memory omission; extreme fatigue was reported by crews; strong correlation between stress and fatigue with the low-cost model of operation was found; elevated levels of stress and fatigue have been reported to wider communities; results of the research, though based on pilots’ perceptions rather than on facts, indicated the negative influence of low-cost carrier organization on pilot’s health; personal accommodation problems were also reported; despite the negative reports of pilots, not all of the low-carrier companies were perceived in the same way (Bennett, 2003).
Suggestions for Follow-Up Research
Bearing in mind the basic requirements for a follow-up research outlined by Privitera (2013) that are novelty and attractiveness, it is reasonable to address the Bennett’s article from this perspective. Pilots’ fatigue and stress levels have been investigated in numerous studies; however, it is interesting how stress and fatigue (independent variables) influence pilots’ health and thus, flight safety (dependent variables). The long-term and short-term effects of stress and fatigue should be examined using medical testing as a key research method, but not interviews, reports, and documentation that might contain biased information.
Summary of Study 2
Leo Jeeva and Chandramohan’s article titled “Stressors and stress coping strategies among civil pilots: a pilot study” (2008) is devoted to the research of psychosocial stressors, the ways of overcoming them, and application of relevant stress-management programs in civil aviation. The article indicated a high percentage of mild to moderate stress (78%) among civil pilots (the independent variable). The authors also researched the methods that pilots used for coping with stress: emotional (77%), problem-solving (18%), and social support (5%) (the dependent variables). In view of this statistics, pilots should pass the appropriate stress-management training programs that aim to teach them how to cope with stress effectively. The type of the design used in the research was within-subjects design, since stress-related questionnaire was used to obtain data for analysis. 70 civil aviation pilots, aged 23-53, were selected for this study. They were asked to complete stress questionnaires including professional Life Stress Scale and NIMHANS Stress Coping Scale. After completing the tests, it was established that only 55 pilots’ results were considered complete and appropriate for further analysis. The results of the study indicated that only 13% of pilots did not experience professional stress, while 9% suffered from severe stress. The authors concluded that the majority of pilots used emotion-based methods to cope with their profession-related stress, while the remaining part chose problem-solving and social support as the ways for overcoming stress. The researchers indicated the limited number of participants that affected the results of the study and highlighted that findings of this article might be used by training programs developers that should create effective stress-management trainings for civil pilots (Leo Jeeva & Chandramohan, 2008).
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Suggestions for Follow-Up Research
Leo Jeeva and Chandramohan’s study (2008) might be researched further following the need to use the research results in practice, that is, in the development of stress-management programs for pilots. By all means, before implementing the results of this research into a training program, it is necessary to test them on a larger sample of pilots concentrating on a particular air carrier, for which a training program is planned to be developed. Stress-management techniques (independent variables) should be transformed into daily practices and recommendations (dependent variables) that pilots will be obliged to follow in order to reduce their stress levels and maintain them at the acceptable level. This issue is an urging one because flight safety is a priority for any air carrier irrespective of location, specialization, etc. The researchers struggle to improve pilots’ performance, while air companies try to make the most profit out of their staff. However, health of pilots should not be compromised at any cost. Therefore, the researchers should draw attention to this problem. Design of appropriate stress-management techniques might be an asset for pilots, whose health should be personal concern for everybody, even if this issue is ignored by their employers.
Overall, the research in the area of stress management in civil aviation is important because human factor is one of the major reasons for aviation accidents and incidents. Unfortunately, the risks associated with elevated stress levels are unaddressed by air carriers. Since air transportation industry deals with carrying passengers, it is important to ensure that pilots are in good health, not stressed or have their stress compensated. This has direct influence on flight safety.