There are few studies investigating the impact of fatigue in short-haul flight operations conducted under United States (US) 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117 flight and duty limitations and rest requirements. In order to understand the fatigue factors unique to short-haul operations, we conducted a series of focus groups across four major commercial passenger airlines in the US. Ninety short-haul pilots were recruited through emails distributed by airline safety teams and labor representatives. Fourteen focus groups were conducted via an online conferencing platform in which participants were asked to identify short-haul schedules and operations that they felt: a) elevated fatigue, b) were not fatiguing, and c) were important to study. Data were collected anonymously and coded using conventional qualitative content analysis, with axial coding and summative analysis used to identify main themes and over-arching categories. The six fatigue factor categories identified were: circadian disruption, high workload, inadequate rest opportunity, schedule changes, regulation implementation and policy issues, and long sits. It appears that additional mitigation strategies may be needed to manage fatigue in short-haul operations beyond the current regulations. Future field studies of short-haul operations in the US should investigate the prevalence and impact of these factors.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Aviation, Circadian disruption, Duty time limitations, Rest requirements, Sleep
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Cassie J. Hilditch, Kevin B. Gregory, Lucica Arsintescu, Nicholas G. Bathurst, Thomas E. Nesthus, Hannah M. Baumgartner, Amanda C.M. Lamp, Laura K. Barger, and Erin E. Flynn-Evans. "Perspectives on fatigue in short-haul flight operations from US pilots: A focus group study" Transport Policy (2023): 11-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2023.03.004