NBAA2009 News Bureau Articles

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Don’t Let Fatigue and Stress Impact Your Job Performance

October 22, 2009, Orlando, FL – During a Wednesday session at NBAA2009, Rogers V. Shaw II from the FAA's Office of Aviation Medicine provided insights into the causes of fatigue and stress and offered some countermeasures that can help keep aviation personnel alert and performing efficiently.

Fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, including an unhealthy family or work environment; stormy weather; exposure to noise, vibration and temperature or humidity extremes; time zone shifts; shift work; and night operations. Resistance to fatigue is higher in people who are physically fit, not overweight, eat a proper diet, obtain adequate sleep, are properly hydrated, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and avoid certain medications, caffeine and tobacco, said Shaw.

Fatigue is often a major contributor to stress, but time pressures, difficult or unexpected situations and personal problems also can cause stress.

Shaw suggests that aviation personnel can minimize the effects of fatigue and stress by discussing any issues they have before they embark on a mission. He recommends reviewing procedures, goals and plans and always using a checklist to execute tasks.

Noting that aviation people typically are success-oriented, systematic, methodical and sometimes egocentric and reluctant to express their true feelings, Shaw urged business aviation personnel to be cognizant of how attitude can affect performance and to always use standard operating procedures.

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