Pilot / Engineer fatigue Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Pilot / Engineer fatigue Case Solution

Review ICAO Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS)

Definition, conceptual understanding and components

Pilot fatigue is a state of mind in which the capability to perform work (both mentally and physically)decreases. This situation occurs due to the lack of sleep or high workload, therefore this results in divergence of attentions and safety standards.

The pilot/engineer fatigue increases the risk of accident during the flight. The unpredictable work hours, long shifts and less sleep duration are primary factors behind pilot fatigue.

The fatigue risk management system is the system which ascertains that each member of the flight crew is performing his/her duty seriously and according to the standards. Along with this, safety management system is used to make sure that external factors are not creating fatigue. It capitalizes the opportunities available in the environment and takes proper measure to reduce the chances of adverse events. In case if any unwanted situation in the environment is observed by crew members, then there is a proper reporting system which must be followed by the members. Moreover, an operator must clearly recognize the nature of event that whether it is created by humans (Intentionally or unintentionally both) or it is an external environment threat. This would help take proper measures as per the rules and regulations of FRMS.

Measuring fatigue

There is no single way to measure fatigue, as it differs from context to context.

  • Laboratory: In laboratory, different measures can be used for one experiment to analyze the problem in different dimensions. The measures used for identifying the intensity of fatigue should be reliable. In laboratory test, different set of skills of crew members are measured such as their short-term memory, vigilance and reaction time.
  • Operations: As operations are considered as more practical work, therefore authentic measures are taken for knowing the fatigue.There are some points which must be considered while evaluating the sleepiness and fatigue of the crew members.
    1. How long will be that activity?
    2. Will it be finished in one time or it will be monitored in different time
    3. Does crew will be able perform their duties in flight
    4. What is the accuracy of test? It is authentic and approved by experts?
    5. Can we generalize its result in more complex situations (i.e. Emergency).
    6. How results will be presented and interpreted? Is any other airline using it?

There is one test which meets the above criteria, which is psycho motor vigilance task (PVT).

Oversight Authority

Regulatory changes

Previously, there were some rules mentioned for crew members and operators in terms of their duty hours and breaks for days, months and years, however, in the modern era, these standards are also followed by transportation sector (rail, aviation and road) by limiting their working hours of daily routine. The different experiments were conducted by scientists regarding the relation between productivity and working hours of a normal person. Moreover, it was concluded that insufficient sleep is the major factor for affecting the productivity level of employees.

By limiting the work time of employees, it would show that the company is taking an initiative to control hazards during the operations. There are some standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for managing the fatigue, therefore this would help us to recover sleep loss, and to manage the circadian biological clock.


In order to equip operators with latest technology and modern machinery, companies use FRMS standards as they ensures improved safety procedures via updated technology. As we know fatigue is measured through different ways such as asking from crew members regarding their workload and by measuring their work performance,therefore there are two scientific approaches for overcoming such problems......................

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