Forbes Mutch/ORLANDO

Sleep-and-fatigue research company Inner Health is offering a commercial version of its Fatigue Reduction/Safety Enhancement Training system to airlines and other aviation-related users after completing a two-year development programme in association with the US Air Force.

The system involves personnel being trained in physical-relaxation techniques and listening to tape recordings of music and sounds of nature to improve the quality of sleep patterns during long-haul operations.

According to Inner Health's executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Dr Christopher Alsten, what makes the system different from other relaxation products already on the market, is the use of a new recording technique called "Three-Dimensional Living Sound", which produces "true 3-D sound through standard headphones". Alsten says that the selection and quality of sound "-overcomes most barriers" to effective sleep patterns.

The USAF says that fatigue on extended missions is cumulative, with crews experiencing reduced recuperative rest on each successive night. Lt Col Jim Bronowski, of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, says that this, added to to the mental and physical stress of normal flying duties, "-could lead to a high accident potential".

The Inner Health system has been tested on transport and tanker crews by the Sustained Operations Branch of the Armstrong Laboratory at Brooks AFB, Texas.

Alsten says that in-flight and post-flight excessive fatigue scores were found to improve by up to 50%, without the adverse effects associated with sleeping pills.

Source: Flight International