Fatigue issues faced by Flight Attendants.

Flight Attendant Fatigue, Part IV: Analysis of Incident Reports

Federal Aviation Administration
December 2009

Download the publication: Crew Fatigue IV CAMI 2009

Voluntary safety reporting is one method by which aviation personnel can report safety issues to their airline and the Federal Aviation Administration. The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is a program managed by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center. This study reviewed flight attendant reports from the ASRS database to identify the frequency of fatigue reports and the conditions under which fatigue occurred.

During June 2008, 2,628 cabin crew reports were downloaded from the NASA ASRS Web site for reports made between January 1990 and December 2007. CAMI researchers reviewed each fullform report narrative for possible contributors to fatigue, or indicators of fatigue. Although the overall number of flight attendant ASRS reports for which full-form coding was completed has decreased over the last 3 years, both total flight attendant reporting and the number of full-form narratives related to fatigue have increased substantially. This voluntary data allows regulators and operators to discover potential problems in the aviation industry before they result in a mishap. The results of this review indicate that flight attendant fatigue may be occurring more frequently and warrant more attention.

Kali Holcomb
Katrina Avers
Lena Dobbins
Joy Banks
Lauren Blackwell
Thomas Nesthus
Civil Aerospace Medical Institute
Federal Aviation Administration
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
December 2009
Final Report
DOT/FAA/AM-09/25
Office of Aerospace Medicine
Washington, DC 20591
OK-10-

Final Report
DOT/FAA/AM-09/25
Office of Aerospace Medicine
Washington, DC 20591
OK-10-

Flight Attendant Fatigue

Download: Flight Attendant Fatigue

The Departments of Transportation and Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill (House Rpt. 108-671) included a directive to the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a study of flight attendant fatigue.

The NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Group (FCG) was contracted by CAMI to conduct the study.

To meet the goals of the study, this report contains a literature review on fatigue as potentially experienced by flight attendants, an evaluation of currently used (actual vs. scheduled) flight attendant duty schedules, and a comparison of these schedules to the current CFRs. The report additionally reviews fatiguerelated incident/accident information from the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and the NTSB database.

One report section describes the application of three different performance and fatigue models to assess how flight attendant duty schedules contribute to increased levels of fatigue and predicted changes in performance. The report concludes with 6 recommendations concerning issues that require further evaluation, including:

(1) Survey of Field Operations. To assess the frequency with which fatigue is experienced, the situations in which it appears, and the consequences that follow;

(2) Focused Study of Incident Reports. To better understand details of the incidents;

(3) Field Research on the Effects of Fatigue. To explore physiological and neuropsychological
effects of fatigue, sleepiness, circadian factors, and rest schedules on flight attendants;

(4) Validation of Models for Assessing FA Fatigue. An important step to understanding whether and how models could be used in conjunction with field operations;

(5) International Carrier Policies and Practices Review. To learn how other countries address these
issues and with what results; and

(6) Training. FAs could benefit from information on fatigue, its causes and consequences, its interaction with circadian disruption, and how and when to employ countermeasures (e.g., scheduled naps, physical activity, social interaction, caffeine).