BENGALURU: Spending long hours on social media in the night is affecting the abilities of the pilots at the Indian Air Force (IAF), who are struggling to manage problems emanating from prolonged sleep deprivation.
Conceding this, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa urged the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) under the training command to evolve a mechanism that can identify pilots who’ve not had enough sleep before they take off.
Stating that social media has become the cornerstone of communication, Dhanoa said that as much it appears to give one a sense of belonging, it is actually taking away interpersonal and communication skills.
“Earlier if a pilot had one drink too many, the bar man would know. If he failed to notice, the others would know and he’d be laid off flying for the day. Today we even have breath analysers… We need a system today that can tell us if a pilot had been sleep deprived,” Dhanoa said at the 57th Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine conference.
He said that social media is eating into the pilots’ sleep with many of them using it in the night.
“Everybody seems to get on to social media late, it then keeps them awake. Flying sorties when the ambient temperature goes beyond 40 degree celsius is discouraged so most of them take off early in the day. This means that most flight briefings are as early as 6am and pilots haven’t had enough sleep,” he said.
Urging the medical practitioners to work on the problem, he said: “…We even had a fatal accident in 2013 because of this problem. It was found that continuous sleep deprivation was the reason for the accident.”