IMSAFEE

Most would’ve heard of the acronym AROWJILI to check that the aircraft is airworthy. What about a check for the crew operating the aircraft? We use the acronym IMSAFEE.

Illness

In regards to CARs 404.06, you can’t exercise the privileges or your licence/ratings if an illness or injury could impair your ability to do so safely. It’s somewhat vague since every person reacts differently to an illness. An obvious example would be food poisoning, which can confine you to a 30 minute radius of a washroom and generally cause you to be in a poor mental state. Even colds and flu can prevent you from flying by blocking your sinuses and possibly causing immense pain during climbs/descents, or simply general body fatigue while your body fights the virus.

Medication

Medication is similar to Illness as above as stated in CARs 602.03(c). The medication may have unintended side-effects that can inhibit your ability to fly properly. Some cold/flu medication may cause drowsiness. Some medication for relieving muscle soreness or pain in general may also cause your muscles to relax and decrease coordination. If in doubt, check with a pharmacist at the drug store or your CAME (Civil Aviation Medical Examiner).

Stress

Stress takes many forms and can affect our ability to focus on the flight. It’s generally divided into two categories: Physiological (or physical) and Psychological stress. Depending on the stressor, it can distract us, cause us to feel unwell, make us feel fatigue, etc.

Physiological stress would include being too hot/cold, physical injury, hunger, muscle fatigue, loud noises, etc.

Psychological stress would include relationships, financial troubles, arguments, circadian rhythm, work schedule, etc

Alcohol (and Marijuana/Cannabis)

Alcohol can impair performance. It reduces situational awareness, response time, mental and physical capabilities. In high doses, it can increase drowsiness and lethargy.

CARs 602.03 states that no person can act as crew member if they consumed alcohol within the past 12hrs or while under the influence of alcohol. Even if you are not under the influence of alcohol the next morning, keep in mind that the after-effects may linger longer, such as hangover, nausea, dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty focusing, etc and can affect your performance.

Transport Canada has zero tolerance in regards to recreational or medical cannabis use. In addition to the immediate impairment, there are long-term effects that may not be noticeable by the user or crew members.

Fatigue

Everyone is different so everyone needs differing amounts of sleep. Know yourself and your own body so you have an idea of how much sleep you need. The average adult requires 6-8 hours, but some may require up to 9 hours and others around 5 hours. Note the difference between running on a good night’s sleep versus on adrenaline or caffeine. A good indication that you require more sleep is when you find yourself easily falling asleep after sitting down on the bus or subway.

Emotions

Pilots need to be calm and collected so they can be more logical and make good judgments while flying the aircraft. Assess one’s feelings to figure out if emotions can affect the safety and mission of the flight. Be aware that some emotions aren’t prevalent and can lie underneath the surface and reveal themselves while under stress or pressure.

Eating

Food is the fuel for humans, much like fuel is food for engines. We need energy to function, and the brain requires around 20% of the daily resting calories. The brain prefers glucose, which is mainly from carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. Hunger also affects our stress levels and may decrease our performance.

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