Stress Management for Pilots

University essay from Mälardalens högskola/Akademin för innovation, design och teknik

Abstract: A human brain is capable to achieve great things, to endure heavy stress and to calculate complex problems. What happens when it fails to do so? Is there anything that could be done to prevent this from happening? Is it possible to help a pilot in command manage his or her stress during flight by measuring finger temperature, skin conductance, ECG and heart rate variations? This thesis study processes that can help pilots manage high stress with simple tools such as closing their eyes and taking a few deep breaths. To determine when the calming measures are needed and to evaluate potential effects, all the signal data stated above are used combined with scoring of every participant performance. The statistical methods used involves an ANOVA-test and mean value calculations. The results were also analyzed using CBR to get a better understanding of the results and to not only rely on statistical methods. The thesis is limited to a minor study of 10 student pilots participating in two sessions with a heavy workload departure in a simulator. The test did result in a small difference between the two sessions which pointed at the calming measures giving a slight improvement for the pilots. However, when ANOVA was applied it showed that the difference between the two sessions was not a significant one. This could be due to several reasons; the pilots were not used to the calming measures and because of this felt more stressed when trying to use the calming measures as well. There might have been a difference if calming measures were included into pilot training already from the beginning. Another reason might be because this is only a minor study and the difference was not apparent on so few participants. In future research, however, there might be a breakthrough on how to handle stress in a cockpit environment involving similar sensors.

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