Dr Paul Jackson is managing director of London-based Clockwork Research, which supports airlines in managing tiredness and developing fatigue risk management systems for their flightcrew

How did you get involved in fatigue research?

After training as a psychologist, I joined the UK Department for Transport as a research manager, responsible for studies on impairment due to alcohol, drugs and fatigue.

Most fatigue research is conducted by the academic community with little consideration for business practicalities. So, together with fatigue specialist Dr Alexandra Holmes, I set up Clockwork Research four years ago to provide scientifically valid solutions that take account of the operational realities of running an airline.

Paul Jackson - Working week
© Clockwork Research

What does Clockwork do?

Clockwork helps organisations develop strategies to minimise the effects of fatigue on health, safety and profitability. We do this by developing fatigue risk management systems (FRMS): working with clients to collect data on fatigue; analysing roster patterns; setting up fatigue reporting systems; and developing fatigue training programmes. Clockwork has played a major role in the development of the EasyJet FRMS and is working with Belgian charter airline Jetair to develop a similarly advanced system.

What do you think of the proposed European Aviation Safety Agency amendments that will require all airlines to have an FRMS?

The proposed amendment has the potential to make a major difference to the industry. It will require organisations to actually measure and manage fatigue risk rather than simply comply with an arbitrary set of prescriptive limits. This promises to deliver benefits both to crew and to organisations as a whole.

Describe a typical week

At the moment, we are developing fatigue awareness and counter­measures training programmes for airlines across Europe, so at least 50% of my week is taken up with meeting clients and our training team to make sure the content we are producing meets each individual client's needs and provides an engaging and interesting learning experience.

We also deliver the Joint Aviation Authorities introductory course on FRMS and I am updating this to reflect recent developments. The rest of my time is taken up with the more mundane, but essential, tasks of running a small business, such as writing proposals and managing our finances.

What are the best parts of your job?

I like the fact that our work makes a real difference to our clients and the people who work for them. My work is varied and often fascinating. At the moment, for example, we are involved in a study looking at the fatigue associated with ultra-long-range (flight time more than 16h) routes, developing fatigue training for schedulers, and running line operations safety audits for a low-cost carrier.

In addition, we are studying fatigue and hazardous driving conditions in the Libyan desert for one of the petrochem majors.

What are the toughest?

Despite crew fatigue being one of the major hazards facing airlines, few actually measure the true costs of fatigue to their employees and their business, so the costs remain hidden.

As a result, it can sometimes be a challenge for a safety department to convince its management team that fatigue really is a problem that needs addressing.

Source: Flight International