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Stress

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Article Information
Category: Human Behaviour Human Behaviour
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary
Content control: SKYbrary About SKYbrary

Description

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, Sanikiluaq Nunavut Canada, 2012 (On 22 December 2012, the crew of a Swearingen SA227 attempting a landing, following an unstabilised non-precision approach at Sanikiluaq at night with questionable alternate availability in marginal weather conditions, ignored GPWS PULL UP Warnings, then failed in their attempt to transition into a low go around and the aircraft crashed into terrain beyond the runway. One occupant – an unrestrained infant – was killed and the aircraft was destroyed. The Investigation faulted crew performance, the operator and the regulator and reiterated that lap-held infants were vulnerable in crash impacts.)
  • B735, Jos Nigeria, 2010 (On 24 August 2010, a Boeing 737-500 made an uncontrolled touchdown on a wet runway at Jos in daylight after the approach was continued despite not being stabilised. A lateral runway excursion onto the grass occurred before the aircraft regained the runway centreline and stopped two-thirds of the way along the 3000 metre-long runway. Substantial damage was caused to the aircraft but none of the occupants were injured. The aircraft commander was the Operator's 737 Fleet Captain and the Investigation concluded that the length of time he had been on duty had led to fatigue which had impaired his performance.)
  • A332, Perth WA Australia, 2014 (On 26 November 2014, an Airbus A330-200 was struck by lightning just after arriving at its allocated stand following a one hour post-landing delay after suspension of ramp operations due to an overhead thunderstorm. Adjacent ground services operatives were subject to electrical discharge from the strike and one who was connected to the aircraft flight deck intercom was rendered unconscious. The Investigation found that the equipment and procedures for mitigation of risk from lightning strikes were not wholly effective and also that perceived operational pressure had contributed to a resumption of ground operations which hindsight indicated had been premature.)
  • B738, Sochi Russia, 2018 (On 1 September 2018, a Boeing 737-800, making its second night approach to Sochi beneath a large convective storm with low level windshear reported, floated almost halfway along the wet runway before overrunning it by approximately 400 metres and breaching the perimeter fence before stopping. A small fire did not prevent all occupants from safely evacuating. The Investigation attributed the accident to crew disregard of a number of windshear warnings and a subsequent encounter with horizontal windshear resulting in a late touchdown and noted that the first approach had meant that the crew had been poorly prepared for the second.)
  • 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.)

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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

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Further Reading

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