Alcohol and Human Performance from an Aviation Perspective : A Review

  • Newman D
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Abstract

Alcohol is a widely used drug, and its abuse is a serious public health problem. Alcohol has many widespread effects on the body, and impairs almost all forms of cognitive function, su ch as inform a ti on proce s s i n g, dec i s i on - m a k i n g, atten ti on and re a s on i n g. Vi sual and vestibular functions are also adversely affected. The performance of any demanding task, su ch as flying an airc raft, is thus impaired by the ef fects of alcohol. Ma ny studies have s h own a sign i ficant proporti on of airc raft acc i dents assoc i a ted with alcohol use. Al co h o l increases the risk of spatial disorientation, hypoxia and poor +Gz tolerance. Many studies h ave con s i s ten t ly shown significant detri m ental ef fects of alcohol on pilot perform a n ce , both in the acute stages and in the post-alcohol period for up to 48 hours. Even low doses of alcohol can lead to redu ced perform a n ce. While a pilot may lega lly fly 8 hours after drinking, the residual effects of alcohol may seriously impair their performance, especially in high work l oad and demanding situ a ti ons. Al cohol use in pilots is therefore a major potential risk to flight safety. 1

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Authors

  • David G Newman

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