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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:

  • 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.)
  • A319, vicinity Zurich Switzerland, 2014 (On 17 October 2014, two recently type-qualified Airbus A319 pilots responded in a disorganised way after a sudden malfunction soon after take-off from Zurich required one engine to be shutdown. The return to land was flown manually and visually at an excessive airspeed and rate of descent with idle thrust on the remaining engine all the way to a touchdown which occurred without a landing clearance. The Investigation concluded that the poor performance of the pilots had been founded on a lack of prior analysis of the situation, poor CRM and non-compliance with system management and operational requirements.)
  • A320, vicinity Oslo Norway, 2008 (On 19 December 2008, an Aeroflot Airbus A320 descended significantly below its cleared and acknowledged altitude after the crew lost situational awareness at night whilst attempting to establish on the ILS at Oslo from an extreme intercept track after a late runway change and an unchallenged incorrect readback. The Investigation concluded that the response to the EGPWS warning which resulted had been “late and slow” but that the risk of CFIT was “present but not imminent”. The context for the event was considered to have been poor communications between ATC and the aircraft in respect of changes of landing runway.)
  • B742 / B741, Tenerife Canary Islands Spain, 1977 (On 27 March 1977, a KLM Boeing 747-200 began its low visibility take-off at Tenerife without requesting or receiving take-off clearance and a collision with a Boeing 747-100 backtracking the same runway subsequently occurred. Both aircraft were destroyed by the impact and consequential fire and 583 people died. The Investigation attributed the crash primarily to the actions and inactions of the KLM Captain, who was the Operator's Chief Flying Instructor. Safety Recommendations made emphasised the importance of standard phraseology in all normal radio communications and avoidance of the phrase "take-off" in ATC Departure Clearances.)
  • AT72, Shannon Ireland, 2011 (On 17 July 2011, an Aer Arann ATR 72-200 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.)

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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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