Many professional athletes have a short career in their desired sport, making them acutely aware of the factors that can reduce their potential. Self-monitoring is a preventative measure to avoid injuries that can hinder performance. The lifestyle of an athlete requires focus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Self-monitoring, checklists, and record-keeping are all proven methods and techniques for attaining their success.
Athletes self-monitor to reach peak performance. To achieve success, athletes often:
Aviation professionals are much like athletes. They must ensure that the aircraft is at peak performance and ready to go when required. This type of readiness requires a 24/7 schedule and affects everyone associated with the aircraft. However, a danger of trying to keep an aircraft prepped for takeoff at all times is fatigue.
Flight schedules are fluid and change at a moment’s notice, requiring dedication from crew and technicians to meet or exceed deadlines. Often, the people who shoulder the repair of a downed aircraft are technicians. Unlike pilots, technicians are not bound by the eight-hour flight time restriction. Their work schedules are governed by those in operations. Depending on the circumstances, an aircraft in need of repair may mean long, arduous hours until the job is finished.
When demands are high for a technician, fatigue can set in. As with an athlete, the technician must self-monitor to keep on top of his or her game and reduce errors while repairing the aircraft. Following checklists and keeping records may not be enough to prevent mistakes in times of exhaustion. When it comes to dealing with fatigue, a technician can become like a downed aircraft. Fatigue can be fatal.
In this case, the phrase, “Know thyself,” applies. Athletes listen to their bodies, learning how far they can push themselves without breaking. Technicians should learn to do the same.
Most human factors courses focus on people and their occupations. These classes focus on how to recognize, address, and overcome fatigue to safely accomplish a task. In aviation, the task is to fix the aircraft and get it into the air where it can make money. Technicians must clearly communicate with their employers regarding their effectiveness while working.
Fatigue is not just being tired or hungry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that prolonged physical exhaustion can lead to mental fatigue. This is where errors present themselves. Fatigue can also be associated with:
If a technician suffers from physical or mental fatigue, then, like an aircraft, it is time to troubleshoot and find the root cause. Some issues may be easy to resolve, while others may require professional assistance. The overall objective is to prevent lack of rest from turning into something more serious, such as chronic fatigue syndrome. This syndrome can be brought on by numerous causes that go unnoticed. As a result, this could impede the ability to work safely and disrupt personal lives.
Become educated about yourself and your limits. Reach for your peak performance, and live a happy, rested, and safe life.
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