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Stress is a bodily response to a stimulus that disturbs or interferes with the “normal” physiological equilibrium of a person and, in the context of aviation, refers to a state of physical, mental or emotional strain due to some external or internal stimulus.
Understanding the factors that lead to stress, as well as how to cope with stressful situations, can greatly improve a individual's performance. Also, understanding that colleagues may react differently to the same stressor is important and can help you control a situation that can quickly get out of hand if an individual is having a negative reaction.
Accidents & Incidents
Events on the SKYbrary database which list stress as a significant contributory factor:
- SW4, Cork Ireland, 2011 (On 10 February 2011, control of a Spanish-operated Fairchild SA227 operating a scheduled passenger flight from Belfast UK to Cork, Ireland was lost during an attempt to commence a third go around due to fog from 100 feet below the approach minimum height. The Investigation identified contributory causes including serial non-compliance with many operational procedures and inadequate regulatory oversight of the Operator. Complex relationships were found to prevail between the Operator and other parties, including “Manx2”, an Isle of Man-based Ticket Seller under whose visible identity the aircraft operated. Most resultant Safety Recommendations concerned systemic improvement in regulatory oversight effectiveness.)
- B734, en-route, New South Wales Australia, 2007 (On 11 August 2007, a Qantas Boeing 737-400 on a scheduled passenger service from Perth, WA to Sydney, NSW was about three quarters of the way there in day VMC when the master caution light illuminated associated with low output pressure of both main tank fuel pumps. The flight crew then observed that the centre tank fuel pump switches on the forward overhead panel were selected to the OFF position and he immediately selected them to the ON position. The flight was completed without further event.)
- B752, vicinity Cali Colombia, 1995 (On 20 December 1995, an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 inbound to Cali, Colombia made a rushed descent towards final approach at destination and the crew lost positional awareness whilst manoeuvring in night VMC. After the crew failed to stow the fully deployed speed brakes when responding to a GPWS ‘PULL UP’ Warning, the aircraft impacted terrain and was destroyed with only four seriously injured survivors from the 163 occupants surviving the impact. The accident was attributed entirely to poor flight management on the part of the operating flight crew, although issues related to the FMS were found to have contributed to this.)
- AT72, Shannon Ireland, 2011 (On 17 July 2011, an Aer Arann ATR 72 made a bounced daylight landing at Shannon in gusty crosswind conditions aggravated by the known effects of a nearby large building. The nose landing gear struck the runway at 2.3g and collapsed with subsequent loss of directional control and departure from the runway. The aircraft was rendered a hull loss but there was no injury to the 25 occupants. The accident was attributed to an excessive approach speed and inadequate control of aircraft pitch during landing. Crew inexperience and incorrect power handling technique whilst landing were also found to have contributed.)
- B735, vicinity Kazan Russia, 2013 (On 17 November 2013, the crew of a Boeing 737-500 failed to establish on the ILS at Kazan after not following the promulgated intermediate approach track due to late awareness of LNAV map shift. A go around was eventually initiated from the unstabilised approach but the crew appeared not to recognise that the autopilot used to fly the approach would automatically disconnect. Non-control followed by inappropriate control led to a high speed descent into terrain less than a minute after go around commencement. The Investigation found that the pilots had not received appropriate training for all-engine go arounds or upset recovery.)
- … further results
Related OGHFA Situational Examples
|Situational Example||Flight Phase|
|De-icing and Latent Organisational Factors (OGHFA SE)||Take Off|
|Disorientation During Vectored Go-Around (OGHFA SE)||Missed Approach|
|Fuel Leak and Confirmation Bias (OGHFA SE)||Climb, Cruise, Descent|
|Fuel Starvation, Stress, Fatigue and Nonstandard Phraseology (OGHFA SE)||Cruise, Descent|
|Landing Gear Failure (OGHFA SE)||Landing|
|Takeoff Weight Entry Error and Fatigue (OGHFA SE)||Take Off|
|Unidentified Fire On Board (OGHFA SE)||Cruise, Descent, Landing|
Related OGHFA Material
- Flight Safety Australia: Fit to Fly?
- Fighting Pilot Fatigue, video by Boeing’s Fatigue Risk Management team in partnership with Delta airlines to portray the effects of fatigue on pilots. It describes technologies in the flight deck that can monitor and prevent fatigue-related events.
- Safety Behaviours: Human Factors Resource Guide for Engineers, CASA (Australia), 2013. Chapter 6 deals with stress for maintenance personnel.