Perceived Fatigue for Short- and Long-Haul Flights


Fatigue as one of human factors contributes a lot on aviation accidents. The original article from Bourgeois-Bougrine, Carbon, Gounelle, Mollard, and Coblentz indicates the research of perception of fatigue in short-haul and long-haul flight in 5 aspects. This article provides usable findings to the reader by summarizing and reanalyzing the results from the original article.


The result contained 5 aspects information. They are demographic information, level of fatigue, causes of fatigue, manifestations of fatigue, and coping of fatigue.

Demographic information

739 questionnaires were returned from the total of 3436 questionnaires. The sample of 739 pilots comprised:

Categories Quantity(Percentage)
Men vs. Women 702(95%) vs. 37(5%)
Captains vs. First Officers 340(46%) vs. 399(54%)
LHF vs. SHF 532(72%) vs 207(28%)

Level of fatigue

  • As a major predictor of fatigue, duty time cannot be explained independently from other contributory causes.

Causes of fatigue

The 3 main causes of fatigue were analyzed from 952 examples of schedules.

1.Sleep deprivation

  • night flights
  • successive early wake-ups
  • jet lag

2.Significant workload

  • long duty periods

3.Density verbal exchange

Long-haul flights Short-haul flights
causes mean(SD) high and very high scores mean(SD) high and very high scores
sleep deprivation 4.12(0.86) 78% 4.10(0.87) 76%
significant workload 3.34(0.92) 46.4% 3.53(0.85) 53.8%
density verbal exchange 3.17(0.95) 38.9% 3.20(1.03) 41.5%

The rating is 5-point scale. 5=very high impact, 4= high impact, 3=medium impact, 2=small impact, 1=no impact

Manifestations of fatigue

There were 1364 manifestations of fatigue reported by pilots. They could be classified into 3 main types of manifestations of fatigue.

1.Sleep-loss related manifestations

2.Mental related manifestations

  • small mistakes(calculation, interpretation,…).
  • increase in response times

3.Verbal related manifestations

  • reduction of social communications and bad message reception
Manifestations LHF SHF
sleep-loss 60% 49%
mental 42% 53%
verbal 31% 40%

Coping strategies

1909 strategies which could be classified into 3 main categories.

  1. rest and sleep management
  2. activity management
  3. life-style


The effects of work schedules of pilots were reflected by this research: jet lag, night flight, and successive early wake-ups. Both of LHF and SHF pilots considered sleep deprivation as the most important cause of fatigue. In order to reduce the rate of aviation accidents, it is necessary to consider aircrew scheduling rules, duty time limitations to prevent additional fatigue. Pilots need to find out the most suitable method for themselves to cope fatigue.


Research approach

Exploratory research through questionnaires into the perception of fatigue on LHF and SHF pilots from airlines.


3436 questionnaires were distributed to pilots through 4 airlines, 739 were returned. The average age of respondents were 34-50yr. And the average flying experience was 14yr. The sample displayed a good range of age and flying experiences.

Data analysis

Descriptive statistics. The original data contained mean which is used to measure central tendency and standard deviation which shows how much variation or dispersion from the average.


1. Bourgeois-Bougrine, S., Carbon, P., Gounelle, C., Mollard, R., & Coblentz A. (2003). Perceived fatigue for short- and long-haul flights: A survey of 739 airline pilots.Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, volume 74, number 10, pages 1072-1077.

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License