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).