Fitness and Performance in Aviation

Fitness in most professional jobs is an individual duty to assess his or her well-being in undertaking such professions. It is a legal requirement to undergo thorough medical checkups before qualifying for professions like aviation and other related jobs. Most of the accidents caused by aircrafts are related to human factors of physical and psychological fitness.

With the advancement in technology, aircrafts have become more reliable and efficient, thus reducing the number of accidents that occur due to mechanical breakdown. The greater percentage of aircraft accidents is thus caused by human factors and account to more than eighty percent of the total accidents caused by the aircrafts (Lowry, 1999, p. 102).

The success of a flight is dependent on human fitness to execute a safe flight. This term paper discusses the factors that affect fitness and performance in aviation such as physical exercise, health, stress, workloads, shift work, pressure to meet deadlines and use of drugs.

The physical fitness and vigorous health of aviation workers are critical aspects in their performance, in aviation, because of the nature of some of their jobs that may be physically demanding. Besides, aviation activities are carried out in a wide range of physical environments that involve substantial change in temperatures, air composition, humidity and other weather related factors.

The ability of the aviation workers to carry some of their tasks may be hindered by poor eyesight, poor hearing, physical injuries, and other physical related factors (Stolzer, Harlford, & Goglia, 2008, p. 58). It is a duty for the individual workers to assess their physical and health fitness in carrying out the aviation duties.

Secondly, physical fitness of an individual affects the sensory system of orientation. Good eyesight is critical in making judgments on safe flight. The human eye is adapted to see during the day light using rods in the eyes and at night using the cones. The rods take time to adjust to bright light during the night when it is introduced shortly. Physical fitness through exercising the body and eating a well balanced diet that is rich in vitamins is vital in maintaining proper eyesight.

Vitamin A specifically is used to prevent night blindness disease that is caused by lack of enough vitamin A in the diet. Night blindness causes blurred vision that affects the performance in aviation because of accidents that result from poor judgment of the eyesight. Deprivation of oxygen caused by flights at high altitudes leads to poor eyesight and poor performance in aviation thus alternative source for oxygen should be provided.

Age is another factor that leads to reduced performance due to blurred vision and other age related disorders (Bibel, 2007, p. 42). In addition, poor health habits that lead to unfitness such as smoking and taking alcohol affect the power of vision thus leading to poor performance in aviation.

The sense of hearing is also vital in for superior performance in aviation. The inner ear helps to maintain motion hearing that creates the vestibular orientation during a flight. Forces during the flight lead to disorientation during the flights that affect the sense of hearing. Poor sense of hearing lead to poor performance in aviation caused by poor communication with the groundwork personnel. In addition, poor performance caused by poor sense of hearing is attributed to inability to create vestibular orientation.

Physical fitness improves performance in aviation by maintaining a healthy nervous system that is critical in creating postural orientation during a flight. Physical exercise helps in keeping the nervous system active, by dilation of blood vessels to allow free circulation of blood and dissolved oxygen that help to keep the mind alert. The nerves help to transmit information to the brain that helps to make a judgment during the flights. Good coordination during the flight because of potent nervous system creates a superior performance in aviation.

Health factors affect fitness of individuals and their performance in aviation depending on individuals’ state of health and intensity of a condition. The conditions that affect fitness in performance, in aviation, range from minor ailments to severe cases. Minor physical illnesses such as coughing, flu, and the common cold amongst others make the aircrafts worker uncomfortable in their work thus lead to poor performance but not to great extent.

Major illnesses lead to the reduced performance in aviation as the workers may be hospitalized or go on sick leaves for treatments. Moreover, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS leads to reduced immunity of the aircrafts workers thus reducing their performance in aviation. In severe conditions of HIV/AIDS, the workers are unfit to work, or their death occurs that substantially reduces performance in aviation because of loss of skilled labor.

In addition, minor injuries such as sprained wrists and anklets reduce work performance of aircrafts workers because of pain. Severe injuries such as broken arms and limbs make the workers unfit for the aircraft work thus reduces their performance in aviation greatly. Physical conditions such as obesity, heart attack, diabetes, age related conditions such as blurred vision, and hearing loss considerably reduces performance in aviation thus legislation should ensure the workers undergo medical checkup prior to their duties.

Moreover, toxins and other related substances may lead to health complications such as cancers, deaths due to intoxication and other unforeseen effects that make the workers unfit for the work and reduce their performance in aviation (Garland, Wise, & Hopkin, 1999, p. 54).

Measures are taken, for the aircrafts workers, to remain fit for their work and improve their performance in aviation. To keep fit, the aircraft workers should take regular meals consisting of a well balanced diet. The workers are recommended to take regular physical exercise thrice a week that is sufficient and twice the resting pulse rate for twenty minutes. In addition, the workers should be responsible for their health, avoid smoking, and practice safe alcohol intake that is recommended by the aviation regulations.

Consequently, mental fitness of the workers is critical for superior performance in aviation. Stress and stress related factors are inevitable in life may lead to poor performance in aviation if not well managed. Stress results from demands to cope up with life situations or adjust to some changes in life or the environment. The results of stress if not well managed make individuals unfit for aviation work and thus lead to poor performance in aviation in various ways.

At first, stress causes physiological and health disorders such as dryness of mouths, nausea, ulcers and insomnia amongst others that lead to reduced activity and poor performance in aviation (Garland, Wise, & Hopkin, 1999, p. 58). Stress factors that lead to change in behavior that is indicated by lack of activity, loss of appetite, shaking and irresponsibility lead to poor performance in aviation due to reduced work output.

Moreover, stress may cause poor concentration, loss of memory and indecision that lead to the occurrence of errors in aviation thus declining the performance. Depression, anxiety, moodiness, and aggression of the workers affect performance of their duties leading to decreased work output.

Domestic stress that results from home-related affairs such as marital problems amongst spouses, children, bereavement of family members, and friends preoccupy individuals’ minds leading to distractions and poor concentration during work. This leads to poor performance in aviation.

Work related stress results from pressure to meet deadlines or poor work relationship that create conflicts at work. Night shift work creates stress to individuals if not well scheduled, as the night shift workers tend to have disturbed sleep during the day and few hours of sleep, unlike the daylight workers.

The workers should adopt sleep strategies for night shift workers to ensure their fitness and stay alert at work during the day. Poor relationships of public within an organization may lead to stress to create an organizational culture thus poor organization leads to reduced performance in aviation.

Physiological fitness increases performance in aviation and can be created through stress management. To keep fit, individuals adopt relaxation techniques, such as listening to music and doing personal hobbies that boost performance in aviation (Lowry, 1999, p. 104). Besides, individuals should ensure that they have enough sleep and take well-balanced diet to increase their activity at work.

Physical exercise helps to release fatigue, relax and increases personal activity thus vital in managing stress and increasing performance in aviation. Furthermore, counseling by colleagues, fellow workers, and professional counselors help to manage stress, keep physiologically fit, and increase performance in aviation.

Arousal is another factor that indicates fitness for performance in aviation and work in general. Arousal refers to fitness of an individual to perform a given task (Garland, Wise, & Hopkin, 1999, p. 62). For optimum performance in aviation, a certain level of stimulation or arousal is required. The level of arousal varies from one person to another. Some people feel overloaded by multi-tasking while others perform well under pressure.

There are different levels of arousal that determine the level of performance in aviation. First, there is under-aroused level that creates poor performance in aviation. Individuals who have low levels of arousal are not particularly active during the work due to complacency and dullness.

The optimum level of arousal leads to increased performance in aviation because of increased activity and motivation to carry out given tasks. Lastly, there is over-arousal level that to some degree leads to poor performance in aviation, as the individuals tend to leave some tasks and focus on others. Over–arousal can be a sign of abuse of drugs, which cause stimulative and sedative effects.

Moreover, sleep, fatigue, and shift work affect individual fitness and performance in aviation. Sleep occurs in cycles and changes in the sleep cycles due to night shift work and other external environmental factors affect the circadian rhythms of an individual. The physiological changes in the body, changes in behavior, and body functions have a regular cycle of circadian rhythm that indicates fitness of an individual.

The circadian factors are not only controlled by the brain, but also by the physical environment factors such as changes in body temperature. The fitness of an individual determines how he or she adapts to the changes and thus affects performance of night shift workers in aviation.

Consequently, the fitness of an individual for performance in aviation is affected by fatigue that can be either physiological or subjective. The physiological stress indicates body’s need for relaxation and refreshment. It is usually related to unfitness of an individual for work due to physical activity, changes of circadian rhythms, irresponsible health behaviors such as drinking, and smoking, and personal health.

The physical stress can be managed by having sound sleep and a rest. Subjective fatigue is related to individual’s feeling being tired and sleepy that depends on the degree of motivation. Subjective fatigue leads to poor performance in aviation because of an individual feeling of extreme lack of activity.

Fatigue affects the fitness of an individual for performance in aviation through various ways. First, fatigue leads to reduced perception of sight, sense of hearing and vision that lead to decreased performance in aviation. Problems of memory loss and slow reaction occur because of fatigue that affects fitness of an individual for performance in aviation.

Moreover, stressed individuals are poor in making judgments and decisions that increase their chances of making mistakes thus leading to poor performance in aviation. Lastly, fatigue leads to reduced work standards due to changes in moods, reduced concentration, and memory loss.

The fitness of an individual affects the time he or she take to sleep and thus affects performance in aviation for shift workers. The period for sleep varies with individuals with some individuals taking long hours to sleep while others take a shorter period (Stolzer, Harlford, & Goglia, 2008, p. 98).

Depending on the individual, lack of sleep leads to reduced performance in aviation because of increased chances to make mistakes due to sleepiness. On the other hand, healthy sleep ensures individuals are fit for work thus increases aviation in performance.

Lastly, fitness in performance of an individual in aviation is affected use of medication and abuse of drugs. The abuse of alcohol leads to depression of the nervous system that causes blurred vision, loss of memory and body balance, and judgment that hinder performance in aviation. Moreover, the use of some medication whether prescribed or not should be carefully considered as it may affect work performance of aviation workers.

The first dose of medication should take at least twenty-four hours before any task to minimize risk of hyperactivity. Furthermore, the abuse of drugs such as cocaine, bhang, and heroin impair the performance the brain that make individuals unfit for aviation activities that reduce performance in aviation.

In conclusion, performance in aviation is dependent on physical and physiological fitness of an individual. Physical fitness leads to increased performance in aviation, which is attributed to increased activity, reduced fatigue, and mental alertness. Regular physical exercise and taking a well balanced diet are critical in maintaining physical fitness and increasing performance in aviation.

Physiological fitness affects the decision-making process, activity of an individual, and orientation during flight. It is recommendable for individuals to ensure proper management of stress related factors, such as work overload, lack of sleep, and fatigue that lead to reduced performance in aviation.

References

Bibel, G. (2007). Beyond the Black Box: The Forensics of Airplane Crashes. Baltimore: JHU Press.

Garland, J., Wise, A.,& Hopkin,V.,D. (1999). Handbook of Aviation Human Factor. London: Routledge.

Lowry, T. (1999). Performance of Light Aircraft. Virginia: AIAA.

Stolzer,J., Harlford,C., & Goglia, J. (2008). Safety Management Systems in Aviation. Farnham : Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

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