Medical Matters are of paramount importance in air traffic control. It is well known that controllers are medically screened prior to beginning an ATC career in accordance with international medical requirements given in ICAO Annex 1, and as prescribed by national regualtion.
The controller occupation is known to be stressful, conducted as shift-work and with a considerable amount of electronic equipment at the working positions. Stress and shift-work are known to have adverse effect on health in a general way. Radiation from electronic equipment has a biological effect, but any possible health consequences from this are not yet scientifically established.
Furthermore, Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) are becomming an integral part of any ATS system. It is well documented that some factors can affect human performance, such as: motivation, personality and attitudes, communication. But fatigue has definitely a prominent role to play this list of factors, as highlighted by the provisions on the management of fatigue contained in Amendment 50B of ICAO Annex 11 – Air Traffic Services; those provisions have an applicability date of November 5, 2020. (ICAO, 2018)
These are just a few examples that demonstrates the importance of medical matters in ATC.
What falls under Medical Matters?
As said previously, the domain of Medical Matters is vast. As regards air traffic control, it encompasses inter alia the following aspects:
- Ocular diseases and ocular fatigue;
- Substance abuse in ATC;
- HIV and AIDS in air traffic control;
- Legal rights of pregnant ATCOs;
- Colour vision and air traffic control;
- Cognitive processes;
- Mental fitness;
- Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM);
- Effects of night shifts;
- Medication and air traffic control;
- Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS);
- Ageing controllers;
- Hypoxia-related issues;
- ATCOs with disabilities;
- Electromagnetic hypersensitivity;
- Sleep apnea and obesity.
For more information, visit one of the following WIKIFATCA pages:
MED 9.2.10 VIGILANCE DURING OPS SHIFTS
There are times, especially during night shifts, where the traffic volume/demand is low. During periods with light stimulation, monotony can occur. Combine monotony with the fatigue that most will experience on a night shift and it can lead to less than optimum performance when needed. Due to ongoing research and sharing of fatigue mitigation efforts in the aviation community, there is a greater understanding of fatigue and how it affects ATCOs, as well as countermeasures that can be applied. However, not much emphasis has been placed on monotony and how this can also affect the overall safety of the operation for ATCOs during night shifts.
IFATCA Policy is:
Member Associations should devote resources for research, development of collaborative solutions and training for ATCOs to combat monotony and complacency.
|See: Resolution C16 – WP 160 – Accra 2018|
Last Update: May 30, 2020
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Last Update: May 30, 2020