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Feeling tired when you start your flight, you are not alone.

Revealed: 20% of British airline pilots are 'clinically burnt out', with over three quarters starting their shifts 'fatigued'

  • Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology polled 1,147 UK pilots
  • They found that 20 per cent reported 'clinical burnout levels' 
  • They are experiencing 'high levels of exhaustion and disengagement from work' 

By Ted Thornhill for MailOnline

PUBLISHED: 04:50 EDT, 20 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:02 EDT, 20 April 2018

A study among British airline pilots shows that 20 per cent of them have scores on a burnout scale that are comparable to those of people that are under burnout treatment.

The authors argue that airline companies need to offer better support and facilities to their pilots to help them cope with their stressful jobs.

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the British Airline Pilots' Association questioned 1,147 active members of the association – and 20 per cent of these report 'clinical burnout levels', with over three quarters reporting that they see colleagues fatigued when they arrive at work.2

  •  

A study among British airline pilots shows that 20 per cent of them have scores on a burnout scale that are comparable to those of people that are under burnout treatment (file image)

This means they are experiencing 'high levels of exhaustion and disengagement from work', according to the researchers, who added that 'the results clearly show that the pilots have an exceptionally burdening job'.

The study revealed that 88 per cent often see colleagues starting their shift fatigued, 87 per cent feel worn and weary after work, and 68 per cent mention feeling becoming disconnected from their work.

The burnout levels measured in this study are higher than those measured in any other occupation.

Forty per cent of the pilots have 'very high burnout levels' (which is a level below the clinical burnout level mentioned earlier).

In an earlier study among 13,000 employees of several occupations the average figure was four per cent.

In the same study the occupation category with the highest chances of burnout was found to be health care professionals, with 'very high burnout levels' of up to 14 per cent.

The researchers say that these results are in part not surprising, looking at the prevailing working conditions.

Pilots face regular shift work across different time zones that leads to jetlag.

Their work environment sees them spending a lot of time in small, confined spaces with low humidity and a lot of noise, with very high responsibilities.

The nature of the job means they are away from home very often and hence have difficulties handling home situations.

Also the increased competition in air travel leads to less job security.

Despite these results, the researchers stress that safety did not currently appear to be at stake - roughly half of the pilots report their last flight simulator performance to 'meet the standards', and the other half performed 'above standard'.

However, the researchers did find a strong indirect relationship between the scores on the burnout scale and simulator performance.+2

  •  

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the British Airline Pilots' Association questioned 1,147 active members of the association – and 20 per cent of these report 'clinical burnout levels', with over three quarters reporting that they see colleagues fatigued when they arrive at work (file image)

They saw that higher pilot burnout reduces the pilot's efforts to seek challenges and to streamline their job demands.

What is at stake, the researchers say, is the well-being of the pilots.

The researchers 'advise airline companies to face up to this fact and create programmes to diagnose high burnout levels and to address them by improving their working conditions'.

They add: 'Also it should become easier for pilots to report burnout symptoms or even to report 'unfit to fly' without having to fear heavy consequences.'

Their work is published in the journal Ergonomics. 

Balpa Head of Flight Safety, Dr Rob Hunter, told MailOnline Travel: 'Balpa has highlighted the growing problem of pilot burnout with airlines and has been working with them to develop robust peer support programmes as a way of helping pilots with issues such as stress and burnout, by making it simpler for them to seek help.

'However, preventing the occurrence of burnout in the workforce will require much greater engagement from all stakeholders in the aviation industry, especially government and regulators.'  
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-5637721/20-British-airline-pilots-clinically-burnt-out.html#ixzz5DF9YR1mz 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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1 hour ago, Malcolm said:

Feeling tired when you start your flight, you are not alone.

Revealed: 20% of British airline pilots are 'clinically burnt out', with over three quarters starting their shifts 'fatigued'

  • Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology polled 1,147 UK pilots
  • They found that 20 per cent reported 'clinical burnout levels' 
  • They are experiencing 'high levels of exhaustion and disengagement from work' 

By Ted Thornhill for MailOnline

PUBLISHED: 04:50 EDT, 20 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:02 EDT, 20 April 2018

A study among British airline pilots shows that 20 per cent of them have scores on a burnout scale that are comparable to those of people that are under burnout treatment.

The authors argue that airline companies need to offer better support and facilities to their pilots to help them cope with their stressful jobs.

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the British Airline Pilots' Association questioned 1,147 active members of the association – and 20 per cent of these report 'clinical burnout levels', with over three quarters reporting that they see colleagues fatigued when they arrive at work.2

  •  

A study among British airline pilots shows that 20 per cent of them have scores on a burnout scale that are comparable to those of people that are under burnout treatment (file image)

This means they are experiencing 'high levels of exhaustion and disengagement from work', according to the researchers, who added that 'the results clearly show that the pilots have an exceptionally burdening job'.

The study revealed that 88 per cent often see colleagues starting their shift fatigued, 87 per cent feel worn and weary after work, and 68 per cent mention feeling becoming disconnected from their work.

The burnout levels measured in this study are higher than those measured in any other occupation.

Forty per cent of the pilots have 'very high burnout levels' (which is a level below the clinical burnout level mentioned earlier).

In an earlier study among 13,000 employees of several occupations the average figure was four per cent.

In the same study the occupation category with the highest chances of burnout was found to be health care professionals, with 'very high burnout levels' of up to 14 per cent.

The researchers say that these results are in part not surprising, looking at the prevailing working conditions.

Pilots face regular shift work across different time zones that leads to jetlag.

Their work environment sees them spending a lot of time in small, confined spaces with low humidity and a lot of noise, with very high responsibilities.

The nature of the job means they are away from home very often and hence have difficulties handling home situations.

Also the increased competition in air travel leads to less job security.

Despite these results, the researchers stress that safety did not currently appear to be at stake - roughly half of the pilots report their last flight simulator performance to 'meet the standards', and the other half performed 'above standard'.

However, the researchers did find a strong indirect relationship between the scores on the burnout scale and simulator performance.+2

  •  

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the British Airline Pilots' Association questioned 1,147 active members of the association – and 20 per cent of these report 'clinical burnout levels', with over three quarters reporting that they see colleagues fatigued when they arrive at work (file image)

They saw that higher pilot burnout reduces the pilot's efforts to seek challenges and to streamline their job demands.

What is at stake, the researchers say, is the well-being of the pilots.

The researchers 'advise airline companies to face up to this fact and create programmes to diagnose high burnout levels and to address them by improving their working conditions'.

They add: 'Also it should become easier for pilots to report burnout symptoms or even to report 'unfit to fly' without having to fear heavy consequences.'

Their work is published in the journal Ergonomics. 

Balpa Head of Flight Safety, Dr Rob Hunter, told MailOnline Travel: 'Balpa has highlighted the growing problem of pilot burnout with airlines and has been working with them to develop robust peer support programmes as a way of helping pilots with issues such as stress and burnout, by making it simpler for them to seek help.

'However, preventing the occurrence of burnout in the workforce will require much greater engagement from all stakeholders in the aviation industry, especially government and regulators.'  
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-5637721/20-British-airline-pilots-clinically-burnt-out.html#ixzz5DF9YR1mz 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Do you think increased pilot fatigue could be related the smart phone/ipad/laptop society we are in were there are so many distraction that can reduce the sleep we get. You can watch a movie or play a game or both at all times of the day around the work for essentially free.  Pilots generally love gadgets and society in general gets  less sleep than ever.

In the old days on the road all we could do was just drink......

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Bobcaygeon In the very old days, CP crews on the Brit or the DC6  would operate YVR-ANC-TYO-HKG. But they switched crews in TYO and then spent 2 to 3 days in the CP Staff house in Tokyo where they could rest and drink.  So even in the good old days there was a realization that crews needed rest.  Nowadays with lots of commuters and the other distractions that you cite, it is little wonder a lot report tired.  

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Jet lag as a result of multiple time zone changes and int’l date line crossings are becoming an even greater issue for long haul crews especially those operating the extended range 787’s. Somewhere I’ve read that it takes about one day per time zone for recovery. When you can easily fly half way around the globe it is nearly impossible to maintain any sort of healthy lifestyle on monthly flight crew rosters. 

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4 hours ago, Bobcaygeon said:

Do you think increased pilot fatigue could be related the smart phone/ipad/laptop society we are in were there are so many distraction that can reduce the sleep we get. You can watch a movie or play a game or both at all times of the day around the work for essentially free.  Pilots generally love gadgets and society in general gets  less sleep than ever.

It’s not just a distraction from going to sleep. The blue light emanating from tablets and smart phones also interrupts the light receptors in the eyes that trigger sleepiness after dark. If you need to read before falling asleep, read a book.

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3 hours ago, blues deville said:

Jet lag as a result of multiple time zone changes and int’l date line crossings are becoming an even greater issue for long haul crews especially those operating the extended range 787’s. Somewhere I’ve read that it takes about one day per time zone for recovery. When you can easily fly half way around the globe it is nearly impossible to maintain any sort of healthy lifestyle on monthly flight crew rosters. 

I recently attended a FRMS course. One interesting bit of data we saw was a measurement of pilot tiredness that Delta has been collecting at top of descent. In general terms, pilots on double crew ULR flights of greater than 15 hours were in a more rested state than those on flights between 10 and 15 hours. That was because the double crews get two decent rest periods each on the ULR flights. The ULR crews were also better rested at the start of the return leg and again at TOD. The data suggests they have a greater fatigue issue on the shorter flights than on the really long ones. 

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13 hours ago, J.O. said:

I recently attended a FRMS course. One interesting bit of data we saw was a measurement of pilot tiredness that Delta has been collecting at top of descent. In general terms, pilots on double crew ULR flights of greater than 15 hours were in a more rested state than those on flights between 10 and 15 hours. That was because the double crews get two decent rest periods each on the ULR flights. The ULR crews were also better rested at the start of the return leg and again at TOD. The data suggests they have a greater fatigue issue on the shorter flights than on the really long ones. 

I don’t know what Delta does differently with regards to rest periods. There are several ways to divide up the duty periods. Some prefer a couple of shorter rests on the ULH flights. Others like a single longer sleep break. 

I’ve done my share of 14hr plus flights with two crew. There are so many factors which can affect your planned crew rest such as your previous work schedule/sleep cycle, food, drinks and then later what can happen during the flight. I’ve had many where it all worked out (loved those sleeps) but more often the sound from a crying child, conversations, endless turbulence, cabin temp control, and enroute meal services would interrupt what should have been a good controlled sleep. Crew bunks or a first class lay flat sleeper seat will never replace a proper comfortable bed. And of course, sometimes you just can’t sleep for a multitude of reasons. 

Edited by blues deville
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On 4/20/2018 at 4:27 PM, Kip Powick said:

5141.gif

Sounds like the Union had high input......while I understand fatigue on very long haul flights with time zones etc I feel there is a lot of shoveling on the over all report.

I guess they don't build them like they used to...4316.gif

I’m just going to preemptively write DELETED, as my rebuttal to this comment. Kindly, Kip, if you have nothing to of value to contribute you are invited to not talk.

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Don't take this personally but I’m just going to preemptively write  that if you don't like the author's postings , don't read them, but I would suggest you take a higher road instead of attempting to be obliquely insulting. As far as I know there are no restrictions as to what any one on this forum can espouse as long as they are civil......... 

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49 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

Don't take this personally but I’m just going to preemptively write  that if you don't like the author's postings , don't read them, but I would suggest you take a higher road instead of attempting to be obliquely insulting. As far as I know there are no restrictions as to what any one on this forum can espouse as long as they are civil......... 

Of course you both could chose to IGNORE each other using the app provided by our hosts. 

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Compared to the 'good ol' days', the airlines often have a strong focus on 'productivity'. The number of hours worked is higher and days off less per month. Lay-overs are shorter and operations are truly 24/7. The opportunity for recovery can be greatly compromised resulting in acute fatigue with related health issues. 

A friend was off work medically for 6 months during which time he was able to maintain a 'normal' schedule with adequate quality sleep. As he was getting his medical re-instated the doctor said all his health parameters (BP, blood sugar, weight etc) were excellent and he should continue doing whatever he was doing. He laughed because the only change was he was properly rested. 

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Fatigue can be acquired from many sources, of course there is the pilot’s environment, pressurized, dry air, constant …almost white noise, and JO mentioned the eye strain perpetrated by the electronic screens in the cockpit etc. There is no doubt that the onset of fatigue can be cause by many factors and LH and ULH is probably high on the list  however I have not seen any reports where “boredom” is considered a factor.

Each person’s ability to offset boredom is different, however the insidious creeping of boredom could be a factor with respect to the new technology where pilots have become more involved as technology monitors and have almost been taken out of the loop with the requirement to be kept busy doing the old school work that pilots were required to do when all the automatic and ease of information access of said information was not available.

I make these remarks not based on any “polls or studies” but on personal experience…..I went from C130s to the A310 and found the technology of the A310 mind blowing for two years but by the time the third year rolled around, and I had absorbed the inner workings of the technology we were using, I found I was quite bored when cruising on LH flights. In my opinion there was no need to constantly monitor every gauge, nor was there the need to request weather or ensure we were on track as the technology was doing everything for us……and that is when I began to feel a bit of fatigue set in. Yes, I did look at the gauges but more or less just to see if they were still there because I knew there would be “bings and bongs” and an ECAM light up if things were not going well.

So the question is…can a degree of  fatigue also be the result of the advent of high gain technology??

As far as the report at the top of this thread……I find it incredible that 75% of pilots showing up for work, in this study, stated that they were tired…What about self-awareness of your personal health ? If one shows up to drive an aircraft, should one not be ready to do the job, or book-off due to fatigue…… or as unpopular as this sounds, was there much “suggested”  bias when pilots checked that item in the survey?  

Yes, we all get tired for many reasons and crossing time zones, the aircraft environment and “red-eyes”  don’t help but I would suggest that there is the  possibility of  another player in the pointy end and that is "creeping boredom".

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2 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

In my opinion there was no need to constantly monitor every gauge, nor was there the need to request weather or ensure we were on track as the technology was doing everything for us……and that is when I began to feel a bit of fatigue set in. Yes, I did look at the gauges but more or less just to see if they were still there because I knew there would be “bings and bongs” and an ECAM light up if things were not going well.

Actually checking enroute/destination weather and monitoring waypoints/track are items that help me stay in the loop and alert. Many airlines still have requirements for checking track/distance at waypoint passage and monitoring position. 

As per B75/76’s post, I think the problem is really a cumulative effect of long haul flying plus everything else that happens in one’s daily life. From my own experience other than being scheduled in accordance with daily, monthly and annual limitations my rosters that maintained a normal sleep cycle have been totally random. 

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Alright then....if I can make an assumption that a vast majority of LH flights in the airlines are done by senior pilots....... can I assume that they are in the upper age bracket ? It is a well know fact that as one ages their tolerance to the effects of airline flying can become somewhat taxing however the senior guys want the big $$$ and less time away from home , (build their monthly block bid accordingly) and  I would say that fatigue would creep in during the last flights of their block because many bid the end of one month and the beginning of another month, all LH, to get their required flying time in, and have a substantial time away from the job.. 

If that is the case, then they would come back rested but could run into the fatigue scenario when they start their next bid /awarded blocks. That continuous cycle could have an effect on their medical alertness but IMO not that much of a detriment when they start each cycle.

This has been discussed many times but if pilot pay was based on seniority versus equipment, would the older set stay away from LH for the sake of less LH  detrimental attributes or is the temptation too great to  get all the flying done for 2 months in approximately 30 days  or less of continuous duty???

Even I can remember when I would fly, as a young man, any hour, any day, but as time rolled on I became more selective concerning when I wanted to fly and when I wanted time off.....

It is an old discussion, and there are probably only two POVs that are debated and in the end, flight safety should be of the utmost importance....... but not at the expense of ones well being.

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The old guys at BA used to operate the short haul and left the big bird long distance flying to the younger set, but younger people have their issues too. Right, or wrong, anyone that ever had to meld their air carrier life with the 'needs' of wives & kids has arrived at work suffering from fatigue more than once.

 

 

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7 hours ago, DEFCON said:

The old guys at BA used to operate the short haul and left the big bird long distance flying to the younger set, but younger people have their issues too. 

That's still the case for the most part. Their pay is based on seniority and position, not aircraft type.

7 hours ago, DEFCON said:

Right, or wrong, anyone that ever had to meld their air carrier life with the 'needs' of wives & kids has arrived at work suffering from fatigue more than once.

That's true, but spouses and kids should also be able to meld their needs with the life of a pilot. Why would you put the safety of a breadwinner at risk just because you can't play quietly or keep the volume on the TV down for a few hours? My kids were taught at an early age that sleeping at odd hours of the day was something their dad needed so he could be safe when he went to work.

Edited by J.O.
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I never had the experience myself, but I sure remember a lot of guys dragging their butt around over the years. It would seem that no matter how organized and disciplined your own home system is / was, kids and wives have needs that upset the best laid plans.

I remember one FO in particular, now a senior AC type; on multi-day missions he could be expected to fall sound asleep several times a day for the first day, or so. He would excuse his behaviour by placing the blame on life with four young kids and a wife. I think he purposely bid in a way that ensured he wasn't paired with the same Captain too frequently and left the 'team' to carry his load.

And I agree JO, no one including myself should have ever allowed that sort of thing to go on.  

 

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