IAF working on ways to beat fatigue in pilots

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New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Indian Air Force is working onsolutions to beat the fatigue in pilots during combatsituations due to disruption in sleep cycles so that theirperformance is not affected by lack of rest.

The planned trials involve both pharmacological meansand non-pharma techniques, a top IAF official said.

Fatigue has been a problem among pilots involved inlong duration flights which sometimes makes them commit errorsthat can be hazardous, more so during combat operations.

"Knowing the danger this factor poses to the successof any mission, it is important that measures be taken thatwill minimise the risk of any undesirable outcome. That is whythe Institute of Aerospace Medicine is trying out methods tocombat fatigue amongst its pilots when conducting operationson round-the-clock basis," Air Marshal Dipankar Ganguly,Director General Medical Services, Air said.

"What applies during peace time is not possible whenthere is a war," he said.

During routine operations, a fighter pilot is wellrested before he takes off. "This luxury is not there duringwar time. They are required to fly without adequate rest forfive to ten days, depending on the nature of operation."

Elaborating on the trials, Ganguly said "we will useboth pharmacological means and non-pharma ways so that theirsleep and wake pattern is adapted to the nature of operation.

"Say, it is wartime and we want our pilot to deliverat night time. So he must have a good rest before he performs.

Unfortunately, if he does not have the habit of sleeping atdaytime he cannot rest and here our medicines will work.

"It should be able to make him sleep during the dayand also make him deliver well at night," the Air Marshalsaid.

He said that attempts are being made to optimise aircrew and ground crew performance during situations whichrequire intense concentration for long hours.

Group Captain Deepak Gour, director medical services,Aviation Medicine said, "Once we have the switch in our hands,the problem of irregular working hours having a cumulativeeffect on the ability of a pilot during important missionscan be overcome." PTI SWT GSN

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