Indian Air Force is working on solutions to beat the fatigue in pilots during combat situations due to disruption in sleep cycles so that their performance is not affected by lack of rest.
The planned trials involve both pharmacological means and non-pharma techniques, a top IAF official said.
Fatigue has been a problem among pilots involved in long duration flights which sometimes makes them commit errors that can be hazardous, more so during combat operations.
"Knowing the danger this factor poses to the success of any mission, it is important that measures be taken that will minimise the risk of any undesirable outcome. That is why the Institute of Aerospace Medicine is trying out methods to combat fatigue amongst its pilots when conducting operations on round-the-clock basis," Air Marshal Dipankar Ganguly, Director General Medical Services, Air said.
"What applies during peace time is not possible when there is a war," he said.
During routine operations, a fighter pilot is well rested before he takes off. "This luxury is not there during war time. They are required to fly without adequate rest for five to ten days, depending on the nature of operation."
Elaborating on the trials, Ganguly said "we will use both pharmacological means and non-pharma ways so that their sleep and wake pattern is adapted to the nature of operation.
"Say, it is wartime and we want our pilot to deliver at night time. So he must have a good rest before he performs. Unfortunately, if he does not have the habit of sleeping at daytime he cannot rest and here our medicines will work.
"It should be able to make him sleep during the day and also make him deliver well at night," the Air Marshal said.
He said that attempts are being made to optimise air crew and ground crew performance during situations which require intense concentration for long hours.
Group Captain Deepak Gour, director medical services, Aviation Medicine said, "Once we have the switch in our hands, the problem of irregular working hours having a cumulative effect on the ability of a pilot during important missions can be overcome."