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WSU researchers apply fatigue model to fatal commuter air crash
Date:1/20/2011

ft leading up to the accident. They also incorporated his circadian rhythm, which tends to prime the body for sleep based on the cycles of day and night.

While the controller had 10 hours off before his last shift, says Belenky, his circadian cycle let him get only two or three hours of sleep and, as he told the NTSB, it was "not real good." A body needs closer to eight hours of sleep, says Belenky, to get the brain "back to spec."

As a result, the researchers estimate the controller was performing at 71 percent of his effectiveness at the time of the accident. They lacked the data to make similar estimates for the flight captain and first officer, but note their behavior suggests they were fatigued. This includes boarding and powering up the wrong aircraft at first and doing an incomplete pre-flight briefing.

The challenge of safer, sleep-friendly scheduling extends to all manner of 24/7 operations, including hospitals, policing, the military, mining and energy generation. Currently, says Belenky, operators use rule-based schedules for staffing. But research suggests that real-time data collection might lead the way to more flexible schedules "based on how much sleep people have actually attained, not on your best guess on how much they were likely to have gotten."


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Contact: Gregory Belenky
belenky@wsu.edu
509-358-7738
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert

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