Business Aviation Insider - May/June 2014 - (Page 34)
working the Back side of the clock:
scheduling and human Factors
When the mission is an international flight, schedulers back home often have to be on call
24/7, and work on the "back side of the clock," when human error is more likely to occur.
"In the last few years, there's been a big focus on fatigue and human factors, but that
focus has mostly been on pilots," said Leigh White, president of Alertness Solutions, a
fatigue-mitigation company based in Cupertino, CA. "For fatigue management to really be
effective, it's important to involve everybody with a mission-critical role in the flight department, especially schedulers.
"Schedulers are on call for days on end, making decisions that affect the entire mission,
and they need to think of their own fatigue," continued White. "When their decision-making
is impaired, it increases the risk for the whole operation."
International missions often put a lot of responsibility on one or two professionals' shoulders. At the Sherwin
Williams flight department, for example, Lori mincek is the only scheduler in a department with 11 pilots and
three airplanes that typically flies two overseas missions per month.
"We use handlers, but I'm the only one in our department, so I'm on call 24/7, 365 days," said mincek, a
licensed dispatcher. "When the pilots are in Europe, they try not to call me at 4 a.m. back home. But when they
need to call, they're going to call."
"the problem schedulers often face is that when they're on call, they're on their own," agreed Alertness
Solutions vice president and senior scientist Kevin Gregory. "they're woken up by a call from the flight crew in
tokyo, and right away they're expected to make clear decisions."
On international flights, pilots
the science of fatigue applies the same to schedulers as it does
actually have an advantage over
to pilots, explained Gregory. the two main factors that affect
schedulers: Because they're
fatigue are circadian rhythms and "hours of wakefulness," or how receiving light cues, the pilots'
long you've been up.
circadian rhythms are shifting
While everybody's biological clock is different, "it's at a low
in the direction they're traveling,
point from roughly 2 to 6 a.m.," said Gregory. "that's when we're
while schedulers are expected to
programmed to be asleep." During this "circadian low," body
temperature is at its lowest, as is digestion and hormonal secretion. make quick decisions during the
People who need to work during the circadian low often
experience sleepiness, compromised memory, reduced mental
performance and impaired decision-making.
"It throws your clock off so drastically," said Jeff Dolan, director of flight control at Jet Aviation Flight Services
in teterboro, NJ. "It's very hard to be up from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m."
In addition to physical and mental fatigue, the FAA recognizes a third kind of fatigue - emotional fatigue - that
can be just as serious a risk. "When you have to provide customer service even when things are difficult, it can
be very stressful and lead to burnout," said Dr. Shari Frisinger, an interpersonal skills expert and president of
texas-based CornerStone Strategies LLC.
"Schedulers are stretched very thin," said Frisinger, "and when you're stressed, your body releases cortisol,
a hormone that's part of the fight-or-flight response. Cortisol stays in your body for at least four hours, causes
excitement and makes it difficult to sleep, which can add to your fatigue."
reducing the risks of fatigue
there can be a tendency to pay less attention to schedulers' fatigue, either because they're at home or
34 | Business Aviation Insider
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Business Aviation Insider - May/June 2014
Business Aviation Insider - May/June 2014
Regulatory Hot Topics
Tips & Tools
Flying to Brazil? Make Advance Planning Your Goal
Smoothing the Process of Coming Home
Cabin Crews: Prepare for International Travel
Business Aviation Brings Customers to Marvin's Door
Focus on Europe
Business Aviation Insider - May/June 2014
If you would like to try to load the digital publication without using Flash Player detection, please click here.