Aviation Insurance giant USAIG is offering its turbine operators a new online training course that teaches pilots how to recognize, and then defeat, the risky effects of fatigue. The course is called Z-Coach, and it is from Awareness Solutions.
Z-Coach instruction includes information about the physiology of sleep, how much we need, the circadian rhythm and the risks of fatigue. Your own sleep habits are analyzed and specific recommendations are included on how you can improve the quality of your rest. The course contains tools on how to recognize when fatigue is degrading your performance. For example, did you know that just a two-hour sleep deficit has the same degrading effect on performance as a blood alcohol level of nearly .05? Miss four hours of sleep and Z-Coach has the research to show your performance is the same as somebody who is legally drunk.
The interactive program offers techniques on strategic napping and other alertness aids such as caffeine. Few of us know how much caffeine is required to make a difference in alertness levels, or how long it takes to work. But Z-Coach has a caffeine tool that uses your body mass to tell you how much of the stuff is necessary to make a difference, and how much is too much. It also has a list of products that contain caffeine and how many milligrams are in typical servings. Coffee is still king when it comes to caffeine, but the amounts contained in various forms of coffee vary widely.
Z-Coach also teaches how to quickly fall asleep and how to improve the quality of sleep. Many of the techniques are particularly useful when trying to rest on a trip, and they cover how best to adjust for time-zone changes. Much of the material is information that most people already know, but it is presented in a usable way with scientific studies to support the instruction.
Like most quality training programs, Z-Coach uses quizzes to make sure you have absorbed the information in each section. Flight department managers can be sure each pilot has passed the course, but any information entered into your personal sleep-habit analyzer remains private, and pilots can erase it after completing the course if they wish.