Sleep and Sleepiness of Pilots Operating Long-Range Airplane Emergency Medical Missions

Management of pilot fatigue for long-range airplane emergency medical services (AEMS) is an important issue related to aviation safety. Sleep and sleepiness of aircrew involved in AEMS was explored in this study. The case-study data were collected from 18 pilots on nine multi-leg missions with a duration of around 20 hours, including flight time and time spent on ground stops. Three or four pilots on each mission rotated between working and sleeping in curtained-off bunks. The pilots wore a wrist activity monitor to evaluate sleep/wake time and kept a sleep and sleepiness logbook. In the 48 hours and 24 hours prior to the missions, mean crew sleep exceeded 12 hours and 6 hours, respectively. During missions, pilots obtained a mean of 3 hours 33 minutes ± 1 hour 46 minutes of sleep. At top of climb and top of descent, Karolinska Sleepiness Scores (KSS) were usually less than 5, ‘neither alert nor sleepy’. Findings suggest that despite the nature of AEMS missions, careful design and management make it possible for pilots to perform these missions with acceptable levels of alertness.


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  • Accession Number: 01540042
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 2 2014 11:48AM