Addressing Pilot Well-being: A Holistic Perspective on Sleep and Family

In the aviation industry, ensuring the optimal performance and well-being of aircrew is a key safety concern. Aviation authorities regulate working hours through   Flight Time Limitations (FTL) rules and Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) provide frameworks, policies and processes to moderate fatigue.



Effects on fatigue due to personal factors

Whilst an independent investigation is due to take place, it is still useful to reflect on the influence of family life on sleep. The co-pilot was struggling to get enough sleep while helping to care for his 1-month-old twins. This is not an unusual circumstance for new parents, but further compounded by moving house.

In a 2019 study by the University of Warwick on new parents, it was found that after the birth of the first child, parents’ sleep duration and satisfaction don’t record to levels before pregnancy up to six years after giving birth. Mother’s sleep an hour less per night in the first 3 months, compared with 15 minutes less for fathers. The repeated sleep disruption creates a cumulative effect leading to chronic fatigue. In the case for the Batik Air co-pilot, the sleep deprivation effects are likely to be greater due to having twins.



Incidents like Batik Air remain infrequent in aviation, and we await the results of the enquiry to understand the full story. By comparison, around 300 drivers will have fallen asleep at the wheel in the US while you have been reading this article. The responsibilities of parenthood are one of the many influences that can prevent us from obtaining sufficient sleep.

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