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Airline to use smartwatches in pilot fatigue trial

NEW DELHI (Reuters): India’s biggest airline IndiGo wants to test fatigue among its pilots using smartwatches and plans to appoint a consultant to improve its fatigue risk management processes, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Pilots can volunteer for trials that will use a fatigue management tool from Thales (TCFP.PA), and the data collected will be analysed anonymously, said the memo sent to all pilots by Ashim Mittra, head of IndiGo’s flight operations department.

“IndiGo will test Thales’ fatigue management tool to assess pilot alertness levels over the next few months. Once completed, we will collectively evaluate the efficacy and accuracy of the data,” Mittra said in the memo sent this week, and reviewed by Reuters on Thursday.

IndiGo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move comes days after an IndiGo pilot collapsed and died before his flight, an incident that sparked complaints from some Indian pilots that they are being stretched to the brink by airlines, even though they comply with duty time regulations.

Getting a consultant on board at IndiGo will play a vital role in implementing a robust fatigue risk management system in the coming months, Mittra said in the memo, adding it would also enable the airline to develop tailored fatigue mitigation strategies.

India’s aviation regulator is conducting a review of pilot fatigue data it has collected during spot checks and surveillance of airlines to see if regulations related to flight duty times or fatigue need to be changed.

According to the memo, the trial will be on specific flight patterns using on-ground devices at four airports including Delhi and Mumbai, and voluntary use of smartwatches and cameras that will detect drowsiness level on each route and aircraft.

IndiGo has been working with Thales on its tool which uses real-time data, historic information and predictive analysis and goes beyond the traditional scheduling methods, it said.

“The trial does not replace the airline’s existing fatigue risk management process. Pilots must continue to report fatigue based on self-assessment,” Mittra said.