Publication: “Flying on empty”– effects of sleep deprivation on pilot performance

Research Impact:  Due to the modern flight operations and the busy work schedules of commercial airline pilots, sleep loss and fatigue would appear to be commonplace and potentially place a serious threat on pilot well-being and flight safety. This study examined the impact of 24 hours sleep deprivation on a variety of psychological measures, cognitive function tests and flight performance using a pre-programmed flight simulator, which were measured at repeated intervals over the 24 hour monitoring period. The findings of this study revealed that following 20 hours of continuous wakefulness significant impairments in performance of nearly all tests measured. Interestingly, changes flight performance observed were consistent with changes in situational awareness suggesting that this may be a promising predictor of changes in flying performance resulting from sleep deprivation and fatigue.

O’Hagan, A.D., Issartel, J., Wall, A., Dunne, F., Boylan, P., Groeneweg, J., Herring, M., Campbell, M. and Warrington, G., 2019. “Flying on empty”–effects of sleep deprivation on pilot performance. Biological Rhythm Research, pp.1-22. DOI: 10.1080/09291016.2019.1581481

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