Sample Aviation Paper on Fatigue Risk Management System

Fatigue Risk Management System

Part 1: Fatigue Risk Management

What is an FRMS?

An FRMS refers to a management system that is used by a certificate holder in the mitigation of the effects of fatigue in particular operations. It should be noted that FRMS is a system driven by data and it is also based on operational knowledge and scientific principles that pave the way for continuous management and monitoring of safety-related risks that are in close association with fatigue-related error. In the real sense, FRMS plays a crucial role in the mitigation and minimization of acute or chronic fatigue sources, as well as helping manage potential fatigue-related risks (Lerman et al, 2012). FRMS is not only a tool but is also a process of management that is established on various organization procedures and policies that are vital to fatigue management. From a regulatory point of view, FRMS must have a policy, which serves the purpose of defining the structure of an organization and the composition of its FRMS when it comes to people and job functions. The other role of a policy is to ensure that the organization implementing FRMS is in compliance with every flight and duty time operations as stipulated by the FAA. Other than putting in place a policy, FRMS implementation must be accompanied by education and awareness training programs, which provide an understanding and foundation for the management and mitigation of fatigue-related risks. It is also imperative for FRMS implementation to be accompanied by fatigue analysis and reporting systems as well as incident reporting processes.

Roles and responsibilities of management and staff

There are three key stakeholders that form part of an organization’s management and staff during the implementation of FRMS. The key stakeholders include the certificate holder, the employees and the FAA, each of which has different roles and responsibilities. To start with, the certificate holder has the responsibility of initiating the development, documentation, and implementation of the scientifically-based FRMS (Lerman et al, 2012). Other responsibilities of the certificate holder include tasking a team to develop policies, provide training, and incept other management procedures during FRMS implementation; ensuring a continuous commitment of resources with the intention of providing support for the effectiveness and progressiveness of FRMS; providing mechanisms for consultation and collaboration among staff members; and customizing or tailoring an FRMS to the size of a particular organization.

The employees, on the other hand, have three primary responsibilities during FRMS implementation, and these include getting enough sleep, planning sleep ahead of time, and ensuring that incidences of fatigue are reported. The FAA, which is the regulator, has various responsibilities in FRMS implementation including providing descriptions of the key or vital components and guidance for the various steps that are prerequisites to the implementation of an acceptable FRMS; reviewing the components of FRMS and assessing whether the components are regularly implemented; conducting periodical reviews of whether the FRMS being implemented meets safety goals; and evaluating whether the FRMS process in an organization is responsive to feedback so as to ensure continuous improvement (Hobbs et al, 2011).

Communication of FRMS and training of staff

Ongoing communication of FRMS to organizational stakeholders is important, and this can be achieved through various ways. A wide range of media channels can be used to convey information on the activities and safety performance of FRMS, with the end objective being to ensure that interest in matters related to fatigue is sustained and that the continuing commitment of stakeholders to the FRMS process is encouraged. Some of the media channels crucial in the communication of FRMS include electronic media platforms such as email and websites, bulletins, and newsletters. Communication of FRMS can also be achieved through seminars and occasional poster campaigns in locations that are strategic and easily accessible. When it comes to communication of FRMS, the content to be communicated ought to be clear, credible and timely. It is also important for the persons involved in the communication process to tailor the information such that it is concise and relevant to the needs and roles of different organizational stakeholders (Hobbs et al, 2011). Once information is conveyed to crew members, it is important for them to provide feedback, as this helps in the identification of fatigue hazards, provides information on the effectiveness of the embraced controls and mitigations, and also ensures that information for FRMS safety performance indicators is provided. Moreover, the communication of FRMS should be honest and open, and this can only be achieved when every FRMS stakeholder has a clear understanding of the policies that govern confidentiality of data and ethicality.

Communication of FRMS goes hand in hand with training of staff, and this is because lack of training of staff could jeopardize the FRMS communication process. FRMS training can be delivered in various ways, one of them being live training sessions. In the latter, a trained instructor provides FRMS-related information to crew members, and it is advantageous as crew members have the opportunity of asking questions related to their specific concerns (Steiner et al, 2012). The training can also be provided through web-based learning and distributed training, which is advantageous in that it paves the way for greater flexibility in place and time that training takes place. Another way of providing FRMS training is through the provision of different materials with FRMS information such as reports or FSAG interventions. The advantage of this method of training is that it ensures recurrent training and helps in the maintenance of interest.

Fatigue Risk Layers

Fatigue risk layers are as indicated below:

Fig 1: Fatigue Risk LayersDescription: C:UsersuserDownloadsFatigue risk layers.PNG

Level 1 is the extent or degree of sleep opportunity that is provided a given work pattern. Work patterns that do not provide an employee with adequate sleep opportunity are likely to result in risks in the long run (Dawson et al, 2012). Level 2 is the actual amount of sleep obtained by an employee, and this layer gives an insinuation that the lack of adequate sleep might result in risk. Level 3 relates to the behavioral symptoms of fatigue such a yawning or degraded task performance, and this means that there is a possibility of risk when an employee exhibits the mentioned symptoms (Dawson et al, 2012). Level 4 focuses on the assessment and control of fatigue-related error, and this brings to understanding the fact that fatigued persons are likely to commit errors that in the long run might lead to fatigue-related risks. Level 5 involves the analysis of the actual fatigue-related incident, and the information obtained helps in the identification of fatigue-related risk, which in the long run might help prevent future fatigue-related incidents, errors, or accidents. As seen above, each of the fatigue risk layers results in fatigue-related risks in the long run, and these risks can be latent or active fatigue-related risks. Latent fatigue risk is that which results from inappropriate decisions made by an organization’s management team. On the other hand, active risk is that which results from an individual’s dangerous acts such as lapses or procedural deviations (Dawson et al, 2012).

Reporting fatigue and CAST

One of the most important perspectives in FRMS implementation in organizations is giving reports of fatigue levels and CAST, as this helps the Fatigue Safety Action Group well informed about fatigue hazards or risks that might affect daily organizational operations (Steiner et al, 2012). There are several prerequisites when it comes to reporting fatigue and CAST, and these include using forms that can be completed, accessed, and submitted easily; having clear understanding of rules about the need for confidentiality of information that is reported; inclusion of regular analysis of reports; as well as provision of regular feedback to staff about actions or decisions made on the fatigue and CAST reports. When reporting fatigue, key information that should be included include recent sleep and duty history, measures of various perspective of fatigue-related impairment, and the time of day of fatigue-related incident. It is also important for the person reporting fatigue to give an explanation of the context of the accident while giving a view of the possible reason for the occurrence of the incident.

Part 2: Information about Fatigue

Body clock and circadian rhythm

The body clock is known for its sensitivity to light, which is through a network of cells in the retina part of the eye. With its sensitivity to light, the body clock can stay in step with the day and night cycle. However, this often creates problems for persons who sleep of step with the day and night cycle or persons who are forced to fly from one time zone to another, this experiencing a sudden shift in the cycle. It should be noted that the body clock influences sleep in various ways, and this is evident in the fact that it has connection to centers in the brain that help do away with sleep (Steiner et al, 2012).

Circadian rhythm refers to the day-to-day alteration of the physiology and behavior of a person, and the alteration is controlled by the circadian body clock, which is located in the brain. Examples of circadian rhythms experienced by humans include changes in the body temperature, levels of alertness and melatonin, cognitive performance, as well as patterns of sleep (Mihanović, 2012).

Sleep and sleep stages

There is no doubt that sleep is crucial to the recovery from fatigue, and this is dependent on the amount and quality of sleep. There is non-Rapid Eye Movement (non-REM) sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which are known to alternate in a cycle that lasts for approximately 90 minutes. Sleep often begins at Stage 1 non-REM and gradually proceeds to non-REM. After roughly 80-90 minutes of sleep, there is a gradual shift out of slow wave sleep into non-REM stages 3 and 4, which is marked by body movements. This is followed by a transition to Stage 2 non-REM and into the first REM period of the night, and the cycle is repeated. The stages of sleep are shown below:

Fig 2: Sleep stages

Description: C:UsersuserDownloadssleep stages.PNG

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are those that make it impossible for a person to obtain restorative sleep despite having an adequate amount of sleep (Mihanović, 2012). These disorders are a risk for crew members as they restrict the time available for sleep. These disorders can be addressed through FRMS training, through which information on where and how the disorders can be treated is provided.

Fatigue and what causes it

Fatigue is defined as a state of complexity that is often characterized by reduction in physical and mental performance, as well as lack of alertness (Mihanović, 2012). In most cases, fatigue is often accompanied by drowsiness making it impossible for people to carry out various responsibilities. Fatigue in aviation can be caused by fixed sleep or wake schedule; continuous hours awake; circadian rhythm, which means alteration in body temperature and sleep patterns;  having crew members operate through multiple time zones, as well as increased workload. Fatigue can only be prevented when the mentioned perspectives are resolved.

Diet and exercise

Agreeably, some of the preventative strategies for fatigue and relate risks or incidences include taking appropriate diets and taking part in regular exercise (Mihanović, 2012). With the right diets and exercise, the body is likely to acquire sufficient energy, which in the long run helps address the issue of fatigue.


Dawson, D., Chapman, J., & Thomas, M. J. (2012). Fatigue-proofing: a new approach to reducing fatigue-related risk using the principles of error management. Sleep medicine reviews, 16(2), 167-175.

Hobbs, A., Avers, K. B., & Hiles, J. J. (2011). Fatigue risk management in aviation maintenance: current best practices and potential future countermeasures (No. DOT/FAA/AM-11/10). National Aeronautics and Space Administration Moffett Field CA Ames Research Center.

Lerman, S. E., Eskin, E., Flower, D. J., George, E. C., Gerson, B., Hartenbaum, N., … & Moore-Ede, M. (2012). Fatigue risk management in the workplace. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 54(2), 231-258.

Mihanović, K. (2012). Fatigue Risk Management System in Flight Crew Planning (Doctoral dissertation, Fakultet prometnih znanosti, Sveučilište u Zagrebu).

Steiner, S., Fakleš, D., & Gradišar, T. (2012, January). Problems of Crew Fatigue Management in Airline Operations. In International Conference on Traffic and Transport Engineering ICTTE.