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An Examination of the impact of stress and workload on pilot performance Assignment sample

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Introduction - Examining the Impact of Stress and Workload on Pilot Performance: Challenges, Effects, and Mitigation Strategies

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Chapter 1:


Work-related Stress (WRS) is the response of individuals related to workload when they fail to match the work demands with their abilities and knowledge (Cahill et al., 2018). Pilots have immense work pressure related to harsh weather conditions, technical faults of the flights, long work hours, and shifting duties and that leads to stress and ultimately results in increased chances of heart disease, fatigue, chances of type 2 diabetes, increased impaired cognitive functions and neuroticism, anxiety, marital strain, depression and others within the pilots. Stress and workload also impact the socio-cognitive dimensions of pilot performance such as decision-making ability, communication, team works, and others ultimately deteriorating the performance ability of pilots. Likewise, the research shall trace the challenges that pilots face and how stress and workload impact pilots' performance.

Research problem

Flying is a critical job as pilots have to focus on weather conditions, technologies related to flights, the life of passengers, and others. Pilots have to perform under immense pressure as has shifting duties, and long work hours, and such work-related stress give rise to various mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and risk of type e 2 diabetes, impacting the quality of sleep negatively and others (Bendak and Rashid, 2020). Such stress declines the working ability of pilots to fly. It has both internal impacts such as increased stress levels, emotional disturbance, and poor physical health, and external impacts such as poor process and performance. Thus, the main factors that result in stress and increased workloads and their impact on pilots are needed to be identified and overcome so that they can fly serenely and reflect safe journeys.


This research shall explore the stresses and workloads on pilots and their impact on their performance. Thus, the research outcome shall help to identify the WRS along with the approaches that shall help the pilots to overcome their stress and workloads.

Research Aim

The research has the aim “to examine the impact of workload and stress on pilot performance”

Research Objectives

  • To understand the stress, workloads, and challenges that pilots face
  • To identify the impact of stress and workload on the performance of pilots
  • To identify the approaches that can help to overcome the challenges related to pilot performance

Research Questions

  • What are the stress, workload, and challenges that pilots face?
  • What is the impact of stress and workload on the performance of pilots?
  • What approaches can help to overcome the challenges related to pilot performance?

Brief Literature Review

Kilic and Ucler, (2019), reported that pilots work under stress as they have to deal with shifting duties, climatic changes, long working hours, and others. During any threat such as a thunderstorm or any event such as long working hours, fatigue, and other pilot gets primary arousal of stress.

Caldwell et al., (2019), have tried to identify the impact of work-related stress on the well-being of pilots and the research outcome reveals that stress impacts social, physical, psychological, and emotional health. The article has assumed that 80% of accidents occur due to human or pilot errors (that arise due to stress and mental tiredness). The article has mentioned that since 1982, approximately 1400 flight accidents have resulted due to the actions of pilots in 2015, the German wings 9525 accident took place where the pilot suicide and crashed the plane as he was unable to cope with professional stress and mental health.

Cahill et al., (2018), have suggested that pilots and the management shall focus on the well-being and safety of the pilots and include the safety performance indicators.

Brief Methodology

The research shall be based upon interpretivism research philosophy as this method shall help to observe and understand the stress and challenges of the pilots. Moreover, the mentioned philosophy shall help to interpret the gathered literature thus; an in-depth understanding of the impact of stress and workload on pilot performance can be understood. The research shall be based on an inductive approach. Such research approach shall help to understand specific theories and to identify underlying patterns within the gathered literature likewise, it shall help to understand the stress and challenges of the pilots, based on such observation a broader and general theory shall be generated that shall help to answer the research questions and the impact of stress and workload on pilot performance can be understood (Lee and Kim, 2018). A case study strategy shall be used and different related case studies shall be used to find the answer to the research questions. Longitudinal time horizons shall be used and data shall be gathered over a long period to understand the challenges that pilots face in different years.

Mono-method shall be used and only qualitative and non-numerical data shall be gathered. A secondary method shall be included and literature shall be gathered from already published articles, journals, magazines, and different internet sources. The thematic analysis shall be used to interpret the gathered data and generate different themes that can help to answer the research questions.

Expected Outcome

The research outcome shall help to understand the circumstances under which the pilots operate. It shall help to identify the tremendous workloads of the pilots and the reasons why the pilots become stressed. The research outcome shall also help to identify the impacts of such stressful working conditions on the performance of the pilots.


The research is based on secondary data and all the literature has been gathered from already published sources. As secondary method helps to understand the views of different authors related to the impact of stress and workload on pilot performance but gathering primary data and collecting first-hand information could have resulted in a more accurate and valid research outcome (Yates, 2020). Moreover, there were limited funds and time.

Chapter 2: Brief Literature Review


The present research study is based on an in-depth discussion regarding the challenges that pilots face in the aviation industry in their daily work life. The researcher has studied several important pieces of information from relevant articles and thesis papers. The researcher, based on the information gathered, has given an analytical thesis regarding the challenges faced by the pilots so that the learner could meet the objectives of the research such as fully comprehending the pressures, responsibilities, and difficulties pilots confront, to determine how stress and workload affect pilots' performance and to determine the strategies that may be used to get around the challenges with pilot performance.

Stress and workloads pilots face

According to Venus, 2021, an airline pilot's duties, tasks, training, proficiency, pay, and career prospects are regularly discussed. These traits present a very simple profile that may be used in any profession. Staying rested throughout lengthy flights, passing medical examinations to retain certification, and doing several tasks simultaneously or unexpectedly at the controls of an aircraft are all particular and maybe uncommon problems for pilots. These additional considerations, whether combined with the duties of a standard job, stress, or family concerns, can significantly affect an airline pilot's lifestyle.

According to Alaimo et al., 2018, psychological issues may disrupt a person's daily activities, and pilots are not an exception. These barriers have such an impact on them that when their thoughts are not at peace, they are unable to make wise decisions or encourage others to make better options. According to reports, human error accounts for between 75% and 85% of mishaps, making it imperative to comprehend how much a person's mental instability affects their capacity to function. Additionally, mental fatigue has a negative effect on the pilot's performance, impairing workload management as well as other cognitive abilities including concentration and decision-making. In turn, stress is harmful to one's health and wellbeing. The amount of mental effort needed for a person to absorb and complete a job in a specific length of time is known as their mental workload.

Psychologists have described and researched these phenomena, as well as the unique research obstacles they bring. An example is considered as a single pilot nears a landing in rapidly worsening weather to better appreciate the relationship between situation awareness and workload. The pilot is already overburdened simply keeping the plane afloat and following the aircraft's equipment along the flight route, so he does not detect a failure of one of the navigational instruments at first. The pilot loses awareness of both the current course route and a big thunderstorm that shows up on the radar monitor after discovering this failure and while attempting to determine the nature of the instrument fault. Finally, despite detecting the plane's route and making attempts to reverse it, the pilot has forgotten to drop the landing gear in this overloaded situation. As a result of the heavy mental burden, our pilot loses awareness of the surrounding environment and the status of the aircraft at certain moments and "sheds" some key responsibilities.

According to Hernandez et al., 2021, research has shown that stress and workload give rise to one sort of decision-making error that pilots make is the plan continuation error (PCE). "Erroneous behavior owing to failure to alter a flight plan despite emerging data that shows it is no longer safe" is what PCE is described as. According to the French Land Transport Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA), get-home-itis syndrome, which occurs when a pilot is determined to land at the intended location no matter what it takes, was to blame for 42% of general aviation fatalities. A pilot must use his or her own discretion to go around whenever it is required, yet they frequently do not. The study discovered that making go-around decisions results in increased heart rate and brain exertion from stress. The responsibility of getting passengers to their destinations on schedule and continuing the flight as planned puts strain on and stresses out the pilot. Pilots' risk estimates may be altered unintentionally when forced to choose between productivity and safety. One of the incidents caused by PCE included American Airlines Flight 1420; the flight crew realized it was risky to continue the flight while strong thunderstorms were coming, yet they did it nonetheless.

According to Venus, 2021, Long trips between time zones are not always more taxing than short flights, although some challenges are specific to each kind of journey. Due to night flights and jet lag, long-haul flights (LHF) have drawn more attention in terms of fatigue than short-haul flights (SHF). A survey of French airlines found that whereas 80% of LHF pilots worked the majority of their duty hours between 0 hours and 5 to 6 hours, 90% of SHF pilots worked the entire day. The average duty period and level of fatigue were, however, the same for the SHF and LHF. Once more, disagreements among crew members, the requirement to finish a second unplanned leg, interruptions during duties, and concurrent activities On the fatigue survey for long-haul pilots, the possibility of adding an unplanned trip rated almost as high as getting insufficient sleep. The assessment of probable causes of exhaustion included dispute among crew members, which was not examined in terms of frequency or intensity.

According to Alaimo et al., 2018, at significantly different rates, airline pilots encountered difficulties that were previously identified as causes of stress or exhaustion. Some of these occurrences might be so infrequent as to have no effect on chronic fatigue or stress in the broader populace. Additionally, while the majority of pilots commute hundreds of miles, some live within 60 miles (97 kilometers) from their home airport. The same security delays affect passengers and pilots. Long lineups at busy airports must be endured in order to do this.

According to Cahill et al., 2020, environmental, physiological, and psychological variables can all contribute to stress. Environmental stress can be induced by loud noise, a tiny cockpit area, temperature, or any other element that physically affects one's immediate environment. Unpleasant surroundings might increase one's stress level. Physical and mental changes brought on by hunger, worry, exhaustion, or any other variable that might alter a pilot's biological cycles are referred to as physiological stress. Last but not least, psychological aspects also take into account a pilot's experiences, relationships, mental health, and other emotional problems. All of these pressures hinder cognitive function and prevent a pilot from operating at their very best. To increase pilots' cognitive burdens, which impact their perception, memory, and logical thinking, it is crucial to reduce these potential causes of stress.

According to Costeira et al., 2022, technological advancements have greatly decreased aircraft mishaps, but the human error continues to pose a threat to flight safety and research. Depending on how one perceives stress, a person will respond to it differently. If a person believes they have the means to meet the demands of the circumstance, they will assess it as a challenge. On the other hand, if a person feels that the demands of the circumstance surpass the available resources, they will see it as a danger and perform less well. Researchers found that while responding to danger, pilots became more preoccupied with their controls and tended to scan unneeded instruments more frequently.

According to Piera et al., 2022, studies have found that common mental disorders (CMD), such as mixed anxiety and depression, affect 7.2% of pilots. A 2016 study on mental health found that 13.2% of participants reached the criterion for having experienced depression in the two weeks prior. The most common psychological problems among pilots, according to study, include adjustment disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, work stress, interpersonal problems, sexual dysfunction, and alcoholism. A comprehensive review of 15 to 22 studies on depression in pilots found that the prevalence of major depressive disorder ranged from 2.2% to 11.9% among commercial airline pilots.

According to Merkle et al., 2019, Workplace expectations and demands that are not compatible with an individual's skills and knowledge and that put their capacity for coping to the test are referred to as "work related stress" (WRS). Stress can result from things other than work, such family issues or debt (personal stressors). Even if work is not the cause and/or was not an issue in the past, someone who has experienced stressful life events may find that they are less able to handle the demands of work.

Impact Of Stress And Workload On The Performance Of Pilots

According to Socha et al., (2020), over their expert vocations, pilots now and again see changes to the ergonomics of the airplane cockpit. Changes in working circumstances, especially for new pilots, may influence how they see flight information or their psychophysiological state. The review that is being introduced looks at what changes in cockpit ergonomics mean for pilot responsibility and execution during an instructional meeting. Twenty members who had never truly flown before were parted into two preparation gatherings (Gr. An and Gr. B). The two gatherings saw changes in cockpit ergonomics during a few preparation periods of flight preparing, which were principally centered around the improvement of crucial guiding skills. Based on take-offs from the current boundaries of the observed flying moves, the presentation (directing accuracy) was assessed. Pulse changeability portrayed the volume of work.

Concerning human variables, Alaimo et al., (2020), claim that the responsibility and weariness of pilots of airplane address a vital contention and an urgent part to consider in-flight well-being. An elevated degree of mental exertion and exhaustion is normally at fault for 75% of airplane mishaps including human blunders. With both straight and nonlinear associations found in the writing, there are various abstract or objective measurements to gauge how much responsibility pilots have. To be more exact, the NASA-TLX poll is the instrument of decision for the emotional evaluation of the responsibility, while the Pulse Inconstancy (HRV) is utilized for the goal study. Furthermore, a Move Mistake File (MEI) is acquainted with evaluating the pilot's presentation during the trip as per mission goals.

As Hancock et al., (2022), have said Thinking that they are expected to perform fundamental obligations associated with keeping up with flight devices, airplane support experts have a critical impact in guaranteeing flight wellbeing. However, because there is little academic discussion of topics linked to the job, the importance and professionalism of civil aviation technicians are sometimes underrated. All things considered, the novel work qualities and workplace have led to an assortment of occupation requests and asset needs, which might be connected with the degree of energy of the flight support staff. Except if the allocated work makes work-family struggle, airplane experts complete their responsibility without responding to it extensively adversely. For these individuals to persistently build their degree of occupation energy, a professional improvement vision is fundamental. Aviation-related contributions are driven by the passion of aircraft mechanics.

As per Mansikka et al., (2019), to concentrate on the physiological responses of sound male school-age subjects to expanded carbon dioxide (CO2) focus and mental responsibility, fifteen of them were oppressed in an encased ecological chamber. During every CO2 openness condition (1626 306 ppm, 3562 259 ppm, and 5087 318 ppm), a resting test was controlled first, and afterward, the multi-property undertakings with three unmistakable mental responsibility levels were finished in the succession decided to utilize the Latin square method. During the very time that people were taking the resting and task tests, information on breathing, electrocardiograms, and electroencephalograms (EEG) was accumulated. The consequences of the factual investigations showed that during the errand tests, the raised CO2 fixation had positive relationships with the breathing wave plentifulness, the extent of adjoining ordinary to-typical spans that vary from each other by more than 50 ms (pNN50), and the beta relative force of EEG, yet no critical reaction was seen during the resting test. Diminished SDNN, expanded breath rate, and higher beta relative force of EEG all demonstrated that the raised mental responsibility was related to an expanded excitement level. This affiliation might assist with making sense of the modified U-molded connection between the expanded mental responsibility and assignment execution. At the point when members were exposed to high CO2 fixation or serious mental weight, the physiological reactions showed that more noteworthy exertion was expected to get done with responsibilities, which impacted task execution.

To comprehend the effect of ship-handling developments on mental exertion and physiological reactions, eleven marine pilots were contemplated, as per Orlandi and Streams, 2018. Four berthings were polished by each pilot in a boat test system. Two components put aside such berthings: the level of trouble and knowledge of the port. Moreover, each berthing may be separated into five sections: three during the execution and two resting stages, one preceding and one later. The NASA TLX and a Likert scale were utilized to evaluate how much mental exertion was being finished. From the EEG, power ghostly densities on Beta groups, 1 and 2 were determined. From the ECG, pulse, and pulse are still up in the air. Eye following was utilized to quantify understudy widening. As berthings turned out to be difficult or the pilots achieved them in places they were new to, the responsibility developed. Different berthing stages created various responses. The utilization of physiological responses to assess preparation progress and execution in the future might be utilized to quantify mental exertion in a backhanded way.

Pilots may fall under the "shift worker" or "remote worker" categories. This type of work is unhealthy, according to several research. Long work hours have also been studied, and it has been found that they increase the risk of stress, depression, neuroticism, impaired cognitive function, decreased sleep quality and quantity, widespread complaints of fatigue, adverse cardiovascular effects, Type 2 diabetes, possible gastrointestinal effects, marital stress, family dysfunction, and social marginalization. The safety of flights is put at risk by psychological problems among aircrew due to the performance deficiencies that ensue. Among the sociocognitive performance elements that are impacted by stress coming from stress both within and outside of the workplace are decision-making, teamwork, and communication (Dismukes et al., 2018). 

The behavior and operation of pilots may be wont to retrieve their performance. Pilots are only capable of performing at a specific level. This maximal capability can be quite the strain level and won't be at the equivalent level during a typical circumstance. This space could be a safety buffer. Even when the degree of stress remains constant, the capacity declines with the duration of the hours, which causes the security margin to shrink. A stressful scenario alters a pilot's capacity for empathy. The fundamental ability of social situational awareness is empathy. The social cognitive process is impacted by stress. In a cockpit, stress and a pilot's empathy may interact. Because stress is an organism's response when demand exceeds its resources or capacity, Different stress levels apply to different flying phases. The go-around, bird strike, and landing stages are the most demanding. The pilots are unaware of each other's stress levels throughout a go-around. Particularly when they are experiencing stress themselves, the pilots who are flying and the pilots who are supervising are unsure of how stressed out their coworkers are. Since they do not frequently work together, the rotating cockpit crews may be part of the explanation for the poor empathy(Vaskova et al., 2022).

Identifying the approaches that can help to overcome the challenges related to pilot performance

All pilots are subjected to regular medical examinations mandated by the FAA, during which doctors examine the heart, blood pressure, vision, and hearing. Failure to pass these examinations could result in the loss of a pilot's license because problems in these areas could impair a pilot's performance or jeopardize the safety of passengers. The best approach for pilots to maintain good health is to take charge of their food, exercise routine, stress levels, and sleep. Making other things less stressful is crucial since flying is by its very nature stressful. When pilots are aware that they need to rest or take care of themselves before a flight, this entails avoiding situations that they are aware will be distressing. A crew member's performance can be significantly enhanced by having a thorough understanding of the causes of stress as well as coping mechanisms. Additionally, it's crucial to recognize that various crew members may respond to the same stressor in different ways. Doing so can assist a flight crew member maintain control over a situation that would otherwise spiral out of control if someone is experiencing a bad reaction(Ghaderi et al., 2023).

According to Vaskova et al., 2022, a stressor is any action, circumstance, or other stimuli that raises anxiety. These may be intrinsic to the person (cognitive or physical) or external (environmental). Physical stresses are underlying health concerns that may be either internal to the body such as pain, hunger, lack of sleep, or weariness or external environmental influences such as noise, pollution, over-crowding, excess heat. All of these stressors have one thing in common which is they all produce an atmosphere that is physically unpleasant and can lead to stress. Stress is influenced by the duration of exposure as well as the stimulus's intensity. For instance, a low-pitched, lingering noise can be equally stressful as a loud, rapid noise.

According to Hernandez et al., 2021, in addition to physical stressors, there are other kinds of stress at work. For instance, expectations for safe service may occasionally collide with management's drive to maintain on-time performance. Such circumstances are stressful since there is frequently a chance of a bad outcome regardless of the pilot's choice. There is a chance of an accident or mishap if the pilot pushes through to do everything on time and please management. The management may punish the pilot if they decide to postpone the flight in order to maximize safety.

 According to Hancock et al., 2022, high levels of stress might result from additional job-related stressors such work overload or underload, crew disputes, and position uncertainty. Additionally, stress transfers can happen when a person in a difficult position makes the environment around him or her uncomfortable.

he degree of strain an individual will probably face depending on the demands of their job and how much discretion they have in making decisions is addressed by the job strain model created by Dr. Robert A. Karasek. The model predicts that employment with high demands and little room for discretion would experience the highest levels of stress and stress-related health issues(Vaskova et al., 2022).

Literature Gap

The present research shows a descriptive research analysis of the stress, workload, and its impact on the performance of pilots in the aviation industry. A literature gap has been stressed which says the research does not discuss the benefits, facilities, and positive outcomes that the pilots receive from the aviation job circle.

Chapter 3: Methodology


In order to acknowledge the study onion model, the research has moved forward using a specific quantitative methodology that combines single-method, mixed-method, and multi-method research methodologies. The research onion structure highlights the several study components that must be examined and ready in order to create a solid research design. The research onion, in other words, guides the researcher through each step necessary to set up a research procedure. As a researcher creates his research methodology, including his research philosophy, research approach, research strategy, choices, time horizon, and techniques and procedures, he must peel back each of the six layers of the onion one at a time (Assadpour et al., 2022).

Research Philosophy:

When we talk about philosophy, we're talking about the diverse set of fundamental principles that helped mould the investigation's perspective or point of view. Philosophical and epistemological approaches are frequently utilized in the investigation of it. Currently, philosophy is concerned with the truthfulness of the facts and how things are seen, whereas epistemology is concerned with the methods employed to get the data and its accuracy. In academic review, positivism and interpretivism are two philosophical traditions that are occasionally used.

The very first layer of the onion is the research philosophy. Any study has to have a research philosophy since it describes the fundamental assumptions that the study is built upon. It is possible to describe research philosophy from an ontological or epistemological standpoint. The nature of reality and what people are able to understand and know can be referred to as ontology, or the "what" and "how" of knowledge. On the other hand, epistemology is concerned with "how" we acquire knowledge and learn to understand things, or more specifically, how we decide what reality is and the boundaries of our knowledge. Despite being oversimplified, this is a nice place to start (Shirooyehpour et al., 2022). 

Interpretivism "relates to the philosophical location of optimism and is used to assemble several techniques, including social constructivism, phenomenology, and hermeneutics; movements toward that reject the objectivist idea that meaning resides inside the universe freely of awareness." According to the interpretive perspective, a scientist should emphasize individual contrasts since they serve as social entertainment (Alharahsheh et al., 2020).

Concentrations that are interpretivism-based may use a variety of methods to address different aspects of the problem. They frequently concentrate on relevance. There are a few crucial components of interpretivism. Most of the time, it is founded on a practical information-gathering technique. Investigating optional information is also quite common in terms of the interpretivism principle.

Implications usually become apparent towards the conclusion of the technique in this study (Van der Walt, 2020). Hermeneutics, one of the distinguishable varieties of interpretivism, is a style of thinking about appreciation and understanding. Phenomenology is an especially notable kind of interpretivism.

The investigation has proven that these key oscillations are crucial for continuing operations on a worldwide scale. According to representative interactionism, pictures are just social items with broad connotations. According to emblematic interactionism, pictures mold reality to achieve a certain outcome.

The interpretivism research theory will serve as the foundation for the study since it will make it easier to see and comprehend the pressures and difficulties facing pilots. Additionally, the aforementioned philosophy will aid in the interpretation of the collected material, allowing for a deeper comprehension of the effects of stress and workload on pilot performance.

Inductive Approach:

It is important to emphasize that using an inductive approach doesn't mean that theories should be disregarded when developing research questions and objectives (Gupta et al., 2022). This method's goal is to identify examples and relationships that may be utilized to construct a hypothesis by deriving conclusions from the informational collection acquired, but it does not prevent the expert from approaching the research issue using an existing theory. Experiential learning underlies inductive reasoning. The most crucial step in making decisions is seeking instances of, and parallels and consistency in, experience (premises) (or producing a hypothesis).

After carefully observing and seeing the outside world, inductive reasoning expands to include more theoretical hypotheses and concepts (Azungah, 2018). An expert who uses an inductive approach and starts with a point typically discover that as he progresses through his analysis, he begins to build experimental hypotheses and recognize early links.

Based on an inductive methodology, the study will be conducted. A more general and comprehensive theory will be developed based on such observation, which will help to address the research questions and explain how stress and workload affect pilot performance. This research approach will assist in understanding specific theories and identifying underlying patterns in the literature that have been gathered. It will also assist in understanding the stress and challenges faced by pilots.

Case Study Strategy:

A few of the probable layers of the examination onion are case study analyses, exams, activity research, meetings, reviews, and various methods. The data necessary for the evaluation and its purpose are taken into account while choosing a system. Additionally, it gives the company the knowledge necessary to understand and adequately address the needs and expectations of its customer.

The term "observational case study inquiry" refers to a thorough analysis of a person, family, group, or relationship. Asking "how" and "why" questions is the best course of action (Widdersheim, 2018). The primary goal of the case study analysis is to explicate the causal relationships in actual mediations that are excessively perplexing for either the review or trial procedures (Hancock et al., 2021). The solution to the research questions will be discovered using a case study approach and a variety of relevant case studies.

Time Horizon:

The time range only indicates the number of points in time that you plan to gather data from. There are two different temporal horizon choices: longitudinal and cross-sectional. The longitudinal time horizon is very beneficial when assessing changes and advancement over time since it is carried out over a few weeks, months, or even years by gathering data at several points in time. Whereas, if the researcher wishes to examine the language used at a certain period, they may utilize a cross-sectional time horizon. When information is gathered all at once, this is what happens. Because the focus was placed on the time of collection rather than the type of data, the data acquired may be qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of the two (Assadpour et al., 2022).

It References to how long the investigation lasted. Often, depending on temporal ranges, cross-sectional and longitudinal data may be distinguished from one another. When all the data are found at once, as is the situation in most surveys, cross-sectional data are employed. Longitudinal data is the collection of information for a certain variable over some time, such as multiple years, quarters, months, or days. To comprehend the issues that pilots confront over various years, longitudinal time frames must be employed, and data must be acquired over an extended period.

Choices of Method:

The research onion proposes the employment of many sorts of techniques, such as single-method, mixed-method, and multi-method research approaches. The inquiry is conducted using a single strategy under the mono-method. The use of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies is referred to as a "mixed method," which depends on using two or more research philosophies. Only qualitative, non-numerical data must be collected, and only one method must be employed (Mohajan, 2018). A secondary approach will be used, and literature will be gathered from previously published papers, journals, magazines, and online resources.

Data Collection and Analysis:

The last layer of the research onion is made up of the methodologies and tactics used. It serves to effectively convey the procedures and goals of the conducted investigation (Hasan et al., 2020). The learner is now required to choose between primary and secondary data in addition to qualitative and quantitative data collected from other sources. The core of the research onion architecture is said to be the data. The collected data will be interpreted using thematic analysis, which will produce several themes that can aid in addressing the study objectives.

Chapter 4: Findings and Analysis

This section shall interpret and analyze the gathered data and reflect certain themes such as the workloads and stress that pilots face, the impact of such challenges on pilot performance, and the approaches that can be used to overcome the challenges. These generated themes and interpretations shall help to answer the research questions.

Stress, Workloads, and challenges that pilots face

It has been found that pilots works within a unique occupational sector. The job is socially, mentally, and physically tiring. They have to work for long hours, especially in some weeks based on certain parameters such as block time and duty time as established by the Aviation agencies. It has been traced from an extensive exploration of secondary literature that Australian pilots usually face 13 hours of duty time (which is a long work hour) however, it might change based on the number of flights flown, WOCL refers to how much duty overlaps occurs on the "Window of Circadian Low". The working limit can be heightened if additional pilots are present then the in-flight rest of the other pilots can be done. Usually, pilots need to fly 100 hours in 28 days, and 900 hours in 365 days (Orlandi and Brooks, 2018). The limit can also vary depending on the season such as summer and winter. Moreover, it has been found from the gathered literature that there are three types of flights such as -short medium, and long-range flights. These also sometimes become challenging.

It shall be discussed that long flights force pilots to stay away from their homes for a long period and that in turn impacts home interference and becomes a barrier to maintaining their social routine. In medium-range flights, pilots have high block hours along with long rest time on duty and longer duty periods. Pilots that operate for short-range flights face immense work pressure as they have to do 3 to 4 take-offs and landings. Specific flight patterns such as short-range flights might take off earlier in1 the week such as starting from 5 am and in the next week flights can take off late at night such as at 2 am (Eggemeier and Wilson, 2020). Such timings result in shifting duties of the pilots. Such a pattern disrupts the circadian rhythm linked with the eating and sleeping hours of the pilots. Pilots face interruptions in eating and sleeping patterns.

Moreover, it has been found that as pilots have long work hours, shifting work, remote work, and high-stress operations (such as firefighters) they have a high level of responsibility and limited breaks. Furthermore, the gathered literature has helped to find that the confined nature of the cockpit reflects certain psychological, social, and physical constraints on the pilots as they cannot get out from the cockpit for long hours unlike other vehicles drives (who can stop their vehicles if they want and go out to take a short break) (Hancock and Matthews, 2019). Additionally, it shall be revealed that having different values and goals as compared to the management and lack of support from the airlines' management, pilots get additional stress and pressure.

It shall be discussed that long duty hours and shifting duties aggravate jet lag within the aircrew. It results in making the pilot drowsy and tired and that results in poor attention and focus. Such workload increases the risk of accidents. Certain impairments linked with drowsiness reflect slow reaction time, deficits in information processing, and reduced vigilance (Taoet al., 2019). It shall also be discussed that the relationship between mental health and fatigue is achieving high attention. It has been found from a cross-section study that more than 700 pilots have reported depression and anxiety due to long work hours and shifting duties. Approximately 13% of the pilots face clinical depression and 4% had suicidal thoughts due to such workloads (Dehais et al., 2019).

It shall also be discussed that certain other factors increase the stress for pilots such as personal stressor that occurs from outside of the work (such as current personal stressors like relationship problems, a sick child or parent, an unpaid mortgage, and others), and it influence pilot performance negatively. Moreover, the complexity or intensity of operational situations (such as bad weather, poor management, and others) also creates stress.

Impact of stress and workload on the performance of pilots

It has been found that pilots have to fly for long hours and have high shifting duties where one week that has to fly in the morning and the next week they have to fly at midnight; sleepiness and fatigue arouse due to long duty hours and that ultimately disrupts the circadian rhythm due to shifts in time zones. It has been found that high mental workloads usually result in mental fatigue and that in turn impacts task management abilities besides affecting other cognitive dimensions of pilot performance. It has also been found that safety is compromised if the stress and workloads of the pilots are not focused on or addressed (Hughes et al., 2019). As the job results in stress that in turn impacts the flight safety and lives of the passengers.

It shall be discussed that high workloads are usually associated with stress and that in turn impacts the well-being of the pilots. The major impacts are a reduction in situational awareness, inability to be concerned about the current task, impaired decision-making ability, inability to manage multiple tasks, and results in increased errors.

According to research, stress is defined as any unfavorable event, scenario, task, or another thing that has an impact on an individual. Heavy labor, immobility, high-temperature conditions, noise, sleep deprivation, danger, information overload, boredom, loneliness, and financial uncertainty are all potential drivers of stress. The amount of cognitive effort that these limits might create is determined by the task demands on operator capabilities. In general, pilots have a lot of duties to complete in the cockpit throughout a flight. For instance, they should monitor the state of the aircraft's systems and plan for upcoming activities, such as their main duties of flying, navigating, and communicating. As a result, operating an airplane needs a high degree of cognitive function under a variety of stressors, including time limits, safety hazards, and environmental conditions(Golding et al, 2020).

The following effects, in particular physiological states of stress and effort, subjective perceptions of stress, mental effort, time pressure, and objective assessments of performance levels and breakdowns in performance, can all be linked to mental strain. According to research, performance would decline as the workload increased. As a result, at moderate workload levels, adequate performance may be anticipated. In the aviation industry, reducing the physical and mental strain on pilots is of utmost importance because the pilot mistake is a common cause of accidents(Afif et al., 2022). 

Findings have presented that human error was listed as a general cause or factor in 88 to 91% of all US general aviation accidents, according to the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) accident record (NTSB, 1998–2005). According to a study investigation conducted in 2005, human factors “91%", environmental variables “39%”, and aircraft factors “25%” were the main causes of accidents. In this case, the cumulative proportion is greater than “100%”, indicating that more than one factor contributed to the disaster. "81%" of pilots make up "91%" of the human elements, "9%" of the on- and off-board staff, and 1% of the organizational people(Golding et al, 2020).

Findings have shown that to ensure a safe flight at all times, pilots in the cockpit compete for numerous crucial jobs during the flight, such as coordinating with air traffic controllers, monitoring instruments, and gazing outside the cockpit. They continually analyze data to arrive at the best judgments. The pilots are especially busy during the final approach to the landing and departure stages of a flight, adjusting the flaps and landing gear, regulating airspeed, monitoring the glide path, and other tasks. Additionally, when flying an aircraft during the final approach to landing and departure phases, both internal and external issues like a mechanical failure and bad weather are particularly important. This is a result of the plane's low altitude and slow airspeed. Therefore, several important aspects throughout the flight have an impact on the pilot's workload, which is usually cited as the cause of accidents. Aviation safety will increase if such possible causes of pilot workload are eliminated or decreased. Precise findings have shown that numerous landing techniques at the final approach to landing and departure phases have been researched to address the major noise reduction and human health problems. However, there is still room for improvement in terms of either technical flying safety or a human operator's capacity for complex landing techniques. As science and technology have advanced, a machine or system is now expected to carry out 99% of its tasks, but the human error still contributes to a variety of mishaps, including those in the aviation industry. Therefore, to increase safety, newly implemented procedures must have a heavy emphasis on lowering human error(Afif et al., 2022).

The functioning of an airplane has greatly improved in both quantity and quality due to the quick development of aviation technology for both civil and military applications. Around 2,270 million people and 37 million tonnes of freight were transported by scheduled flights operated by the 185 member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2009. (ICAO, 2010). According to predictions made by the International Civil Aviation Organization, from 2002 to 2015, global aviation traffic rose at an average rate of 4.5%. (ICAO, 2004). To handle the growing number of air traffic, the airport's infrastructure (such as the runway and passenger terminal) has been enlarged toward the city. This led to the growth of the nearby cities, which subsequently ringed the airport in a ring of major cities. This incident had a significant effect on the nearby neighbors as well as the pilots due to the stress brought on by the noise and safety worries, respectively(Venus, 2022). 

Approaches to overcome the challenges

Mental sickness of pilots is closely linked to lack of autonomy at work, inability to relax, fatigue, and lack of support from the management Aviation experts are nowadays suggesting preventive treatment for the mental health of pilots. It has been found experts are suggesting that airline organizations support pilots by reducing the duty hours and by trying to maintain more or less the same duty time or shifts (Dismakes et al., 2018). Pilots need effective workload management, communication, and teamwork.

The strain and exhaustion of work cause stress, which can have a negative influence on both personal and professional life. This is more of a concern in the aviation industry, but it may put public safety in peril. This has occurred in several aviation mishaps. Therefore, the best course of action is to make all working conditions as stress-free as possible. However, it is not practical. When the person has received the necessary training to handle the stressor, the degree of stress may be controlled. Although controlling stress responses is challenging, it is not wholly impossible. The most successful coping technique is to address both the stressor and its emotional impact(Wang et al., 2022).

Pilots labor to support their families just as any other person would. The pilots struggle greatly as a result of the significant physical and mental strains they experience in their line of work. They must take certain standard procedures to deal with stressful situations in their personal and professional lives. The fundamental actions include maintaining hydration and eating and drinking a nutritious diet, whether it be vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. They can recuperate from the stressful reaction in their mind and body by staying in touch with friends and family and talking to them rather than keeping things to themselves(Santos et al., 2022).

The Wellbeing SHED model might provide the pilots with a helpful solution. Even if pilots are too busy to decompress, the four fundamental principles—eating, sleeping, drinking, and moving around—are daily activities for everyone. Simply being more conscious of what one does in each of these areas, such as eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, engaging in moderate exercise, and getting adequate sleep, can help reduce stress. Last but not least, even whether one is a pilot or works in the aviation sector, being nice to oneself with personal priorities and lowering expectations may help one become accustomed to a smooth lifestyle. This is especially true in the current circumstances where so much is out of our control(Golding et al., 2020).


The stress and difficulties pilots encounter have been highlighted in this study, which demonstrates The three primary sources of stress in the aviation industry are physiological stressors, psychological stressors, and environmental stressors. Professional pilots may experience stress in the air, on the ground, during work-related activities, and in their personal time due to the effects of their line of work. Being an airline pilot can be an extremely stressful job because of the workload, responsibilities, and need to ensure the safety of the numerous passengers they transport throughout the globe. Chronic stress may negatively impact a person's health, capacity for work performance, and cognitive functions. Stress does not always have a bad effect on people because it may motivate people to act and help them adapt to a new environment. A pilot's physical, emotional, and mental health are negatively affected by excessive stress, which might result in regrettable accidents. Stress impairs cognitive function and the relevance of decision-making, which is a key cause of pilot errors (Santos et al.,2022).

The research subsequently shows the impact of stress and workload on the performance of pilots. Being a pilot is regarded as a special career that calls for the capacity to handle demanding workloads and excellent physical and mental health. Stress levels are believed to have a substantial influence on pilots, unlike other occupations. One study found that 75% of surgeons claimed that stress and fatigue had no effect on their level of performance, in contrast to just 24% of pilots who disagreed that stress impacts their performance. Despite the fact that pilots are aware of how damaging stress can be, many accidents and incidents may and have occurred. A person will react to stress in various ways depending on how they perceive it. According to research, when faced with danger, pilots become more fixated on their controls and have a propensity to scan unnecessary instruments more frequently. Working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory are the three forms of memory (Ghaderi et al.,2023).

A pilot's working memory is impacted when stress sets in. The number of resources that can be accessed through working memory under stress is either restricted or their access is hindered. A stressed-out pilot will experience increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, tense muscles, worry, and exhaustion. The pilot's cognitive processes are eventually disrupted by these physiological stress symptoms, which impair recall and restrict cue samples. Researchers discovered via their study that stress has a significant impact on flying performances, such as landing precision and smoothness, multitasking ability, and being in front of a plane. According to additional studies, people are more likely to choose the same course of action while under extreme stress, regardless of whether their past choices had a favorable or unfavorable outcome. Understanding the root causes of stress and effective coping techniques may greatly improve a crew member's performance. It's also important to understand that different crew members could react differently to the same stressor. If someone is having a negative response, doing so might help a flight crew member keep control of a situation that would otherwise get out of hand. (Hancock et al., 2022).

Moreover, the research also emphasizes the approaches that can help to overcome the challenges related to pilot performance. The complexity and possibly rapidly changing environment throughout an airplane's flight path need a disciplined approach to problem-solving and decision-making. Because this procedure often includes more than one person, skillful communication also plays a part in its effectiveness. A stressful circumstance for one individual may not be distressing for another. Stress can sometimes improve performance, but it can also have a detrimental impact on how a flight crew member executes a task. The goal of this thesis was to provide an overview of what stress is and best practices to help pilots, such as avoiding negative stress whenever possible by being prepared to address stressors; recognizing the symptoms of excessive stress; and effectively coping with stress when it cannot be avoided. However, the SHED model discussed in the research also gives a way for pilots to manage the stress and workload pressure they face(Khoshbouy et al., 2022).


The researcher has analyzed the gathered data in detail and has found that a certain number of recommendations can be made to lend a helping hand to find out a solution for the challenging circumstances that the pilots face(Costeira et al., 2022).

Table 1 shows the analytical data on sleep and rest, positive diet, and exercise for pilots:

Every week (few times)

Quantity (%)

Sleep and rest




Positive diet




Table 1 Weekly Chart(a few times)

(source: developed by the learner)

Table 2 shows the largest emphasis tends to be placed on sleep and rest, nutrition, and exercise in connection to daily activities to treat WRS.



Sleep and rest


Balanced Nutrition




Table 2 The Points of Focus

(Source: developed by the learner)

Table 3 lists the activities that pilots must regularly engage in, including exercise, diet, sleep, and relaxation.





Healthy diet


Sleep and relaxation


Table 3 the Must include factors

(source: developed by the learner)

However, studies have revealed that just 18.2% of questioned pilots reported communicating with family and friends, while 23.5% reported talking with coworkers.

The data analysis in table 4 shows that relaxation techniques are not used by pilots as regularly as other techniques. Moreover, research has shown that pilots seldom ever employ professional assistance which is 2.6% many times per week, and 0.8% once per week(Ghaderi et al., 2023).

Relaxation Techniques




Sometimes every week

10.9% to 11.5%

weekly (some total)

7.9% to 8.2%

Table 4 Relaxation techniques

(source: developed by the learner)

In addition, five ways can be implied to ensure an optimistic impact on the pilots' performance summed up as follows:

  • Lighten the load

In many instances, losing unneeded weight may be beneficial. The takeoff roll will be shorter, the climb rate will be higher, the cruising speed will be quicker, and the stall speed will be slower for the pilots. A bit less time and money can be saved by packing less for a trip(Hancock et al., 2022).

  • Shift the center of gravity backward

The airplane's tail down force will be lessened by an aft center of gravity, however, it must be kept in mind that the pilots must stay within CG restrictions. This will enhance the range and cruise airspeed of the aircraft and minimize induced drag(Costeira et al., 2022).

  • The combination must be lean

The pilots will be able to conserve a significant amount of fuel that would otherwise be lost at altitude by leaning the mixture at cruising height.

  • Select the appropriate altitude

The performance of an airplane is significantly impacted by altitude selection. As they ascend, normally aspirated engines lose power as a result of the drop in air pressure. The longer it takes and the more gasoline the airplane uses, the higher the pilot must fly. The secret is to choose a cruising altitude that balances time-to-climb with winds aloft(Ghaderi et al.,2023).

  • Include drag-reducing equipment.

The speed of the pilots can be increased by up to 10 knots by adding drag-reducing equipment, like wheel fairings. The speed at which the pilots reach their target increases when parasitic drag is reduced.

Last but not the least, flight scheduling and passenger flow depend heavily on aircraft turnaround time. There are other variables at play, including the kind of aircraft, regional practices, required maintenance, flying capacity, and more, and each circumstance should be assessed separately. However, there are defined practices that greatly improve the efficiency and safety of aircraft turnaround(Sisson et al., 2022).


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