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Pilots: Work related stress and Wellbeing


Abstract: Work is part of our wellbeing and a key driver of a person’s health. Pilots need to be fit for duty and aware of risks that compromise their health/wellbeing. Recent studies suggest that work-related stress (WRS) impacts on pilot health and wellbeing, performance, and flight safety. This paper reports on the advancement of new tools for pilots and airlines to support the management of WRS and wellbeing. This follows from five phases of stakeholder evaluation research and analysis.

Existing pre-flight checklists should be extended to enable the crew to evaluate their health and wellbeing. New checklists might be developed for use by pilots while off duty supporting an assessment of (1) their biopsychosocial health status and (2) how they are coping. This involves the advancement of phone apps with different wellness functions. Pending pilot consent, data captured in these tools might be shared in a de-identified format with the pilot’s airline.

Existing airline safety management systems (SMS) and flight rostering/planning systems might be augmented to make use of this data from an operational and risk/safety management perspective. Fatigue risk management systems (and by implication airline rostering/flight planning systems) need to be extended to consider the relationship between fatigue risk and the other dimensions of a pilot’s wellbeing. Further, pending permission, pilot data might be shared with airline employee assistance program (EAP) personnel and aeromedical examiners. In addition, new training formats should be devised to support pilot coping skills.

The proposed tools can support the management of WRS and wellbeing. In turn, this will support performance and safety. The pilot specific tools will enable the practice of healthy behaviors, which in turn strengthens a pilot’s resistance to stress. Healthy work relates to the creation of positive wellbeing within workplaces and workforces and has significant societal implications. Pilots face many occupational hazards that are part of their jobs. Pilots, the aviation industry, and society should recognize and support the many activities that contribute to positive wellbeing for pilots. Social justice is a basic premise for quality of employment and quality of life..

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