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Crew factors in flight operations VII : psychophysiological responses to overnight cargo operations
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    NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Human Factors
  • Abstract:
    To document the psychophysiological effects of flying overnight cargo operations, 41 B-727 crew members (average age 38 yr) were monitored before, during, and after one of two typical 8-day trip patterns. During daytime layovers, the average sleep episode was 3 hr (41%) shorter than nighttime sleeps and was rated as lighter, less restorative, and poorer overall. Sleep was frequently split into several episodes and totaled 1.2 hr less per 24 hr than on pretrip days. Each trip pattern included a night off, which was an effective countermeasure against the accumulating sleep debt. The organization of sleep during daytime layovers reflected the interaction of duty timing with circadian physiology. The circadian temperature rhythm did not adapt completely to the inverted wake-rest schedule on duty days, being delayed by about 3 hr. Highest subjective fatigue and lowest activation occurred around the time of the temperature minimum. On duty days, reports of headaches increased by 400%, of congested nose by 200%, and of burning eyes by 900%. Crew members also reported eating more snacks. Compared with daytime short-haul air-transport operations, the overnight cargo trips included fewer duty and flight hours, and had longer layovers. Overnight cargo crews also averaged 5.4 yr younger than their daytime short-haul counterparts. On trips, both groups lost a comparable amount of sleep per 24 hr, but the overnight cargo crews had shorter individual sleep episodes and more broken sleep. These data clearly demonstrate that overnight cargo operations, like other night work, involve physiological disruption not found in comparable daytime operations.
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