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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:

  • 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.)
  • B738 / F100, Geneva Switzerland, 2014 (On 31 March 2014, a Geneva TWR controller believed it was possible to clear a light aircraft for an intersection take off ahead of a Fokker 100 already lining up on the same runway at full length and gave that clearance with a Boeing 737-800 6nm from touchdown on the same runway. Concluding that intervention was not necessary despite the activation of loss of separation alerts, the controller allowed the 737 to continue, issuing a landing clearance whilst the F100 was still on the runway. Sixteen seconds later, the 737 touched down three seconds after the F100 had become airborne.)
  • DH8B, Kangerlussuaq Greenland, 2017 (On 2 March 2017, a DHC8-200 took off from Kangerlussuaq in normal day visibility without clearance and almost immediately overflew three snow clearance vehicles on the runway. The Investigation identified a number of likely contributory factors including a one hour departure delay which the crew were keen to reduce in order to remain within their maximum allowable duty period and their inability to initially see the vehicles because of the runway down slope. No evidence of crew fatigue was found; it was noted that the vehicles involved had been in contact with TWR on a separate frequency using the local language.)
  • 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.)
  • A310, vicinity Moroni Comoros, 2009 (On 29 June 2009, an Airbus A310-300 making a dark-night visual circling approach to Moroni crashed into the sea and was destroyed. The Investigation found that the final impact had occurred with the aircraft stalled and in the absence of appropriate prior recovery actions and that this had been immediately preceded by two separate GWPS 'PULL UP' events. It was concluded that the attempted circling procedure had been highly unstable with the crew's inappropriate actions and inactions probably attributable to their becoming progressively overwhelmed by successive warnings and alerts caused by their poor management of the aircraft's flight path.)

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Related OGHFA Situational Examples

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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Further Reading

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