Keywords: commercial aviation, low-cost carriers, competition, working hours, pilot stress, pilot fatigue, safety
Flight crew stress and fatigue in low-cost commercial air operations - an appraisal
It has been suggested that the "low-cost" model of air travel generates excessive levels of stress and fatigue amongst flight crew. Pilots were interviewed at a UK-registered low-cost carrier (LCC). Most said they felt stressed and fatigued. Despite its subjectivity, the pilots' testimony suggests that stress and fatigue are issues that merit close attention - not least because events like the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, 2003 Gulf War and coterminous severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak have exacerbated economic pressures within the industry. Flight crews have insights and ideas that may benefit commercial aviation. It is they, and not legislators or civil servants, who deliver the product. It is suggested that a commitment to risk communication (as defined by Irwin and Wynne), which emphasises continuous dialogic risk assessment and the systematic and routinised exploitation of "user knowledge" may enhance flight safety.