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Abstract

Fatigue has long been identified as a human factor in aviation. Subsequently, a series of studies have highlighted fatigue-related elements within the context of the aviation industry, focusing on the flight deck – with some extension to flight students – and aviation maintenance activities. However, the latter has not been as deeply examined as its flight crew-centered counterpart. Similarly – if not more significantly – fatigue experienced by aircraft maintenance technician (AMT) students is scarcely explored, especially in comparison to the research conducted to understand fatigue in flight schools. AMT students are subject to comparable, but not the same, experiences as flight students. Academic-related stress, coupled with the need to accumulate a certain number of hours of instruction, certification and qualification exams, and the careful balance of jobs, academic requirements and expectations, and personal lives are all examples of fatigue-inducing situations faced by AMT students. In the conducted study, exactly these factors were explored, with the goal of better understanding the fatigue levels experienced by aircraft maintenance students, but also the contributing factors thereto and the consequences thereof. With this purpose, AMT students at a specialized school in the United States were surveyed with respect to their opinions on, and experiences with, fatigue. A total of 72 responses were analyzed, which indicated that fatigue and tiredness are factors of interest within the context of AMT educational programs. While the participants indicated overall healthy lifestyle patterns and adequate stress and work-life balancing mechanisms, commitments outside of the classroom, the schedule of classes, and course attendance requirements were identified to contribute to students’ fatigue levels. Consequently, reports of students falling asleep in class together with fatigue-induced errors/mistakes were identified among the responses. Nevertheless, the participants indicated to be aware of the safety issues created by fatigue and noted that their learning was not detrimentally impacted by their levels of fatigue. The results obtained form a basis for future research efforts, highlighting areas that are of specific interest for future studies with the goal of improving the educational experience for future aircraft maintenance technicians.

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