Fatigue case study

Ben runs his own business and he is a busy man. He is 56 and has a wife and two teenage children at home.

He also finds time to fly his own helicopter in the weekends and sometimes, if he is lucky, during the week. Ben uses flying as a stress relief, but recently he has been finding that he’s not as on the ball as he would usually be. He is feeling tired.

On his drive out to the airfield one afternoon, he finds himself nodding off in the car, and has to stop for a break and a run around the car. He tells himself that once he is out at the airfield with all that fresh air, he will feel much brighter.

Today is a warm day, and once airborne the aircraft is like a hothouse. No amount of fresh air through the vents is working – he is dozing off in the air!

Ben finally recognises this dangerous situation and correctly decides to get the helicopter on the ground as fast as he can. The landing is not a good one, in fact the site is less than ideal and there is some damage to the skids, but he realises he got away with that one.

He arranges for someone to come and collect him and his helicopter, files an incident report, and gets a ride home. His wife is less than impressed with him and launches into the ‘I told you so’ speech, and the ‘what if we had been with you’ speech. Ben realises that perhaps his wife might have had a point when she asked (not nagged) him to see a professional about his poor sleeping!