Crew workload in JASDF C-1 transport flights: I. Change in heart rate and salivary cortisol.

Abstract

The physiological responses of heart rate and salivary cortisol for six paired captains and co-pilots during JASDF scheduled transport flights were compared to assess crew workload. The relative change of both responses showed similar patterns and were influenced significantly by whether pilots were controlling the aircraft. Moreover, differences in flying experience and responsibility of captains and co-pilots influenced the two physiological responses; heart rate and salivary cortisol measures increased more for both captains and co-pilots while they were in control of the aircraft than when they were not. Compared to captains, co-pilots showed much higher activation and variability in relative change of heart rate and salivary cortisol between periods of controlling and non-controlling the aircraft. On the other hand, captains showed relatively constant responses comparing aircraft controlling and non-controlling periods, especially in the cruise phase of flight. Salivary cortisol may be a useful, non-invasive method of assess crew workload.

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