What is aeronautical agony and how to avoid it?

15.05.2015

Aeronautical agony is the sum of fears, anxieties, phobias and operational stress of an individual´s personality or acquired over time. Alterations of motivations or psychological defenses allow the emergence of aeronautical agony and consequently some syndromes which would lead a pilot to be disqualified from flying. One of them is the fear of flying. This is a frequent problem which especially affects passengers but also professional pilots. This syndrome appears more often during night flights, severe turbulent conditions, IFR and when flying over the sea. It is not often reported by the pilots to their AME because another fear appears all of the sudden, which is the fear to be disabled to fly. 


Nevertheless these symptoms can easily disappear when the conditions give the pilot a feeling of control and safety. On the other hand, if these symptoms don’t disappear but continue or increase, they can develop into a phobia, which increases the stress factor to its limits.

 

 

If the stress factor increases, the tension experienced by a pilot during the flight increases exponentially, and he/she might experience chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue is linked to loss of motivation towards a flight. The factors which can lead a pilot to this disorder are in most of the cases the Operator´s pressure, personal problems or hormonal imbalances (which are present in a part of the brain called hypothalamus) particularly related to the phenomenon of “jet lag”.

 

A pilot with chronic fatigue can provoke accidents due to “get-there-itis” which is the subconscious intention to hurry the procedures, leading to a human error, and land at any price, without considering the possibility to go-around. 

 

Taking into consideration that there are several aeronautical characteropathies, a Macho attitude could worsen this disorder, leading the co-pilot with little possibilities to change the captain’s mind.

 

These disorders are not irreversible, but they need to be treated starting with a period of rest, therapy, and training. Knowledge about disorders related to human factors can help us if we suffer them on a given period of our pilot lives understanding why and what is happening and find a solution before going to the cockpit not to endanger the lives of others.

 

Source: Flying Academy instructor Alba Dobargnes, Foto: Wiki

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