Professional pilots are highly trained and motivated individuals. In a technical profession such as aviation, there are issues that are faced which must be dealt with during every operation.
These issues affect safety and efficiency and therefore, are very important for both operators and pilots to be acutely aware of the hazards they bring.
Lack of Supportive Talent
Currently, there is a lack of supportive talent available. What this means is that there are not enough qualified pilots to fill various roles throughout the industry causing a pilot shortage. This puts extra pressure on employers and their pilots to maintain their schedules. Often, this results in what would be the second most common issue faced.
Fatigue is a general lack of alertness and degradation in mental and physical performance. When pilots are not given adequate rest or worked to the point where fatigue becomes common, safety becomes compromised. People become stressed quicker when fatigued and it is known that being very tired has a dramatic effect on cognitive and motor skills, almost similar to being drunk.
An often overlooked issue is documentation. The amount of paperwork to be read and credentials needed to be up to date for professional pilots can become overwhelming. As technology advances further many tasks have become automated and paperless. However, confusion still sometimes arise with pilots trying to interpret flight manuals or having to go through lines and lines of NOTAM text. More simplicity is needed in pilot documentation to prevent confusion.
Emotional stress is an issue that over the last two decades, has been getting more attention when pertaining to technical professions. Pilots have many important tasks and items to remember and perform correctly on every single flight. Stress from emotions can cause psychological pressure that has shown to distract or cause pilots to forget essential tasks or make reckless decisions.
Aviation is practically at the forefront of technological advancement. Most cutting edge technology begins in the aviation industry and eventually filters down to consumer products in some shape or form. With this being the case, pilots have to constantly update themselves on new technological trends within the industry. This can be an issue since everyone’s learning pace and technological literacy are at different levels. Keeping up with these trends has also brought the challenge of pilots learning how to use new technology. In some cases, there is not enough time to fully understand how they can fully affect the flight.
The work of a pilot is one that is forever evolving. The issues pilots face are not fresh however, new insights into them can help bring more awareness of the risks they bring to flight safety.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fatigue Prevention for Pilots,” 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aviation/fatigue.html
Federal Aviation Administration. “Pilot Fatigue,” 2010. https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=11857
Meredith Metsker, The Airline Pilot Shortage, Emsi, 2018, https://www.economicmodeling.com/2018/05/24/pilot-shortage-three-reasons-why-us-running-out-of-pilots/
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