Aviation Safety: measuring pilot fatigue

Few Canadians were left unaffected by 6,669 fires that burned across the country this year, amounting to 3.95 million hectares, according to the National Wildland Fire Situation Report.Among them, were the hundreds of men and women who pilot loaded airtankers above the treetops to battle the nearly 2,000 wildfires that swept across the province this summer.

For Conair — a company specializing in aerial forest fire fighting — and its staff of experienced pilots this is a seasonal reality and the driving force behind a new collaboration with Survive and Thrive Applied Research (STAR). The STAR initiative is a catalyst for industry and UBC collaborations that aim to research, test and commercialize new technologies.

In July 2015, the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC) announced funding for the innovative project that brings together partners, specially selected for their relevant experience and expertise, from across the country.

STAR researchers will collaborate with Camosun College, Latitude Technologies, and Conair to analyze past flight data, conduct fatigue tests in regular and simulator flight scenarios, and attempt to identify and quantify fatigue factors. The combined project has a budget of just over $600,000 over the next 18 months, with participation by industry, the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada, and other Canadian granting agencies.