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Concepts of Flight Safety Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 17th, 2022

Introduction

Flight safety is one of the integral values of the aviation industry, it being the primary determinant of success level of airlines. Regardless of the country or state, it is a legal obligation for any airline to formulate and implement safety management strategies to avert the likelihoods of accidents occurring (Lewis, 2004, p. 3). Although all organizations in the aviation industry have these measures in place, faulty application or negligence of some safety measures or policies is one of the primary factors that greatly jeopardize the safety of a flight. As research studies show, as compared with mechanical faults, sabotage, or unfavorable weather conditions, human error is the primary reason behind the numerous airplane accidents that occur annually. This is the case primarily because, for the aviation industry to meet its set operational demands, airlines have to match their working schedules with their overall strategic goals hence, the tight, unpredictable, and irregular nature of most airlines’ working schedules. These schedules pose great risks to flight safety, as most crewmembers have to endure the physiological challenges, for example, fatigue of such schedules on human physiology (McArthur, 2010, p.1). In addition to the challenges associated with unpredictable and tight working schedules, bad vibrations and noise can pose great dangers on flight safety, as they may cause unnecessary panic and reactions. This paper will discuss the effects of noise, fatigue, and vibrations on flight safety and methodologies of reducing such effects to maintain flight safety.

Effects of Fatigue on Flight Safety

Psychologically, the ability of individuals to perform their duties according to set operational standards primarily depends on such individual’s mental and health status. This is because, the psychological well-being of the mind and body increases one’s attention, responsiveness, remembering ability, and capacity to formulate workable solutions, in conflicting or emergence situations. Considering this, it is of great significance for all airplane crewmembers to be of sound mind and free from any hindering factor, for example, fatigue, which may impair the psychological and biological functioning of their bodies. As research findings show, fatigue is one of the primary factors that greatly impair the normal functioning of crewmembers, because it alters their attention, concentration, and judgmental abilities. Although most airlines have tried to address the fatigue problem by flexing the crewmembers’ working timetables, the operational demands of airlines have it hard for airlines to implement appropriate fatigue reduction strategies. Common causes of fatigue include, lack of enough resting periods caused by tight working schedules, circadian rhythm distances, and unpredictable and irregular work duty schedules (Manning & Rash, 2009, pp.38-39).

One primary effect of fatigue is prolonged reaction time, a factor that translates to reduced accuracy in dealing with emergencies whenever they arise. Majority of tired crewmembers have a habit of failing to notice most ordered task components, for example, forgetting some elements on a list, or concentrating too much in doing some activities, while neglecting other important activities. In addition, fatigue greatly impairs an individual’s ability to retrieve crucial information that is important in formulating of quick solutions to any emerging issue. On the other hand, the speech of tired crewmembers is slurred, hence chances of what they say misleading other crewmembers in decision-making are high (Manning & Rash, 2009, pp.39-40).

A good example of an accident that resulted due to negligence of safety measures, because of fatigue of crewmembers was the colliding of a DC-8 plane with its terrain in Guantanamo bay, Cuba. This accident occurred on 18th, August 1993, leaving the plane a mangled wreck and fatally injuring three crewmembers. According to the accident report, the plane lost control after its captain failed to recognize the end of the runway, as he had experienced a circadian rhythm and lack of sleep disturbance. The captain of the plane had flown it for more than nine hours hence, when landing he failed to note that the plane was loosing its flight part and air speed, as his mind was busy searching fro the ground strobe light. His mind was so preoccupied to an extent that he could not hear his flight engineer’s calls causing the eventual crushing of the plane (Carbaugh, 2003, Para 17-18). Another example was the December 29, 1972 Eastern Airlines accident. The accident occurred in Florida because of a missing signal that was to indicate the extension of a landing nose signal. As the accident showed, the plane captain’s mind was so preoccupied with solving the problem using the position light system, without noting that the plane was crashing (Manning & Rash, 2009, p. 39).

Effects of Vibrations

In addition to fatigue, depending on the prevailing environmental and altitude of an airplane, although occurrence of vibrations is a normal phenomenon while flying, some vibrations may be an indication of a mishap. Therefore, it is necessary for crewmembers to check and ascertain the causes of such vibrations. Common causes of vibrations include gear extension and retraction, system breakdowns, atmospheric turbulences, and extension of brakes. The ability to detect flight noises depends on the crewmembers’ problem analysis proficiency in ascertaining the causes of different vibrations. Examples of engine malfunction that may make an airplane to vibrate include lack of balance of the engine motor and engine airflow problems. Depending on the magnitude of vibrations, as research studies show, vibrations may impair a pilot’s vision in taking correct readings hence, increasing the likelihood of a pilot making wrong decisions, which may jeopardize a flight’s safety. In addition, violent vibrations can lead to heightened anxiety not only in crewmembers, but also in passengers hence, endangering the health state of individuals with health complications for example, high blood pressure patients (Nakashima & Cheung, 2006, pp. 15-18).

On the other hand, violent vibrations may impair the crewmembers’ cognitive ability to investigate the causes of different vibrations hence, make timely decisions to avert likelihoods of an accident. For example, in super-cooled water or icy atmosphere, likelihoods of ice accumulating on sides of rotor blades are high hence, leading to an unbalanced state of the blades. Unless the blades have enough torque to maintain the plane’s position, the plane will vibrate violently due to the aerodynamic imbalance created by the freezing ice on rotor blades. Vibrations associated with this like a case are very violent and of great discomfort hence, posing great judgmental problems to crewmembers, because they are hard to discover. In addition, violent vibrations may impair the identification of target tasks and close examination of warning signals, as the violent vibrations may affect the crewmember’s perceptual abilities (Withington, 2010, pp. 25-26).

Effects of Noise

Just like vibrations, loud noises are common characteristics of the aviation industry. Although pilots primarily depend on visuals signals as the primary means of communication, verbal communication plays a crucial role in passing of messages not only between crewmembers and passengers, but also between pilots and traffic control officials. Depending on the Loudness of sound, noises can cause many health problems, for instance headaches, hearing losses, and nausea to both passengers and crewmembers. In addition, noise can cause a communication breakdown, making it hard for crewmembers to receive and pass flight messages hence, increasing likelihoods of accidents, because crewmembers may miss to hear important details of some messages. On the other hand, loud noises may impair correct execution of tasks, because of reduced accuracy. This case is common in messages that contain numbers needed by crewmembers to execute certain functions (Rash, 2006, pp. 42-43).

Recommendations of Improving Flight Safety

In conclusion, considering the dangers associated with negligence of flight security measures, all crewmembers must ensure they strictly adhere to the set safety rules, it being the only primary way of minimizing accidents. In responding to disturbances such as vibrations, which in most cases are accompanied by noises, crew members should ensure they take their time to discover the causes of such problems, because rushing into doing some actions may greatly jeopardize a flights’ safety. One primary step that a flight’ crew should take incase of sudden noise or vibrations is to reduce a plane’s engine and air speed using the required steps. This means that, the crew has to ensure the plan goes back to its flight level, because of the significance of reducing any stress on the plane. After this, the crew must act with the required speed, although cautiously and find the problem without worsening the situation. It is of significance for crew attendants to report such mishaps, as this information is important to the manufacturing company and airline managements in correcting such problems (Nakashima & Cheung, 2006, pp. 4-19).

To alleviate safety problems associated with long working hours that wear out pilots, pilots should realize that, sleep is essential hence, the need for adequate rest. In formulating of working schedules, it is necessary for managements to take into consideration pilots rest hours, regardless of an airline’s operational needs. Majority of airlines prolong pilots working schedules without considering how hazardous such actions are. Although some unpredictable factors, for example, changing weather conditions may necessitate the prolonging of their working hours, managements must restructure their crewmember’s timetables to include enough rest periods, as defined by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Flight Periods and rest Durations Agency (Manning and Rash, 2009, 38-41).

To ensure that aviators adhere to the safety measures, there is need for crewmembers get appropriate trainings on methods of monitoring an airplane’s path and systems. In addition, the training should emphasize the importance of a calm, fast but controlled response to any flight mishap that may occur. On the other hand, it is important for all pilot training institutions to ensure they make aviators realize the significance of all flight safety information. Majority of pilots tend to neglect the significance of some safety measures, because of the voluminous nature of safety policies, protocols, and rules. Finally, to ensure that, crewmembers acquire the required monitoring capabilities, the government in collaboration with airlines must come up with standard operating procedures. These guidelines should equip crewmembers with the required practical expertise of dealing with any occurring safety threat, with required swiftness and care (Sumwalt, Thomas, & Dismukes, 2002, pp. 1-7).

Reference List

Carbaugh, D. (2003). Pilot Friendly. Web.

Lewis, C. P. (2004). Flight safety information. Flight Safety Information Journal. Fourth Quarter. Web.

McArthur, B. (2010). Flight safety and human factors. Boeing.com. Web.

Manning, S. D., & Rash, C. E. (2009). Flight Safe Foundation: Aerospace World. Web.

Nakashima, A., & Cheung, B. (2006). The effects of vibration frequencies on physical, perceptual and cognitive performance. Defense and R & D Canada. Web.

Rash, C. E. (2006). Flight Safety.Org. Web.

Withington, T. (2010). Flight Safety.org. Web.

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