You want your airline pilots fully alert and awake, right?

Well good thing researchers on our campus are studying pilot fatigue.

Hans Van Dongen, the head of our Sleep and Performance Research Center, worked with the Regional Airline Association for this work, which was featured above by KXLY.

Hans Van Dongen WSU SpokaneVan Dongen (pictured) and his team set up simulators and used 24 real airline pilots. The study was as realistic as it could be, with participants even dressed as they would when flying normally. The pilots were taken on real routes in the simulator and had to talk to the control tower.

Pilots each flew two duty days, one with a single long flight and the other with a number of shorter routes.

The study found that pilots developed a moderate increase in fatigue when flying numerous shorter routes as compared to the longer, single route pilots.

Studies like this will help the airline industry schedule pilots and can help make our skies safer. So the next time you’re flying commercially, their schedule may have been made with the help of research from our campus.