THE CABIN CREW WHO OF ANY INTERNATIONAL AIRLINE FLIES FREQUENTLY AND EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT THT THEY UNDERTAKE INVOLVES CROSSING SEVERAL TIME ZONES AND HENCE THEY ARE AT A CONSTANT RISK OF HEALTH HAZARDS. THERE ARE RULES AND REGULATIONS WHICH ARE FORMULATED BY DGCA, THE COMPLIANCE AUTHORITY IN OUR COUNTRY, BUT BECAUSE THERE ARE NO COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO DEVICE THE RULES BASED ON REAL TIME RESEARCH, LIKE THE OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES, SUCH COMPLIANCE AUTHORITIES END UP FAVOURING THE OPERATOR THEREBY COMPROMISING ON THE CREW HEALTH
1. JETLAG is one of the most important reasons for a deteriorating cabin crew health. Jetlag, as we all know, is the effect on the circadian rhythm of the person or flier due to frequent timezone travel. In our airline, we do have guidelines which are implemented while rostering a crew for a flight but these guidelines have not been created with any scientific data backing them. Some rules are sacrosanct. A cabin crew is not scheduled on a ULH ( Ultra Long-haul Flight which is a 15 to 17 hours flight nonstop.) if he /she has just come back from one ULH flight. The rule is after he/she operates a ULH flight and comes back to home base he/she is not scheduled any duties for 72 hrs.
2. PRESSURISED CABIN AND LOW OXYGEN LEVEL. Again we all know that an aircraft flies at an altitude of 38000 feet to 40000 feet whereby the outside pressure is negligible and hence the cabin of the aircraft is pressurized to a comfortable level. In Boeing 777 series aircraft this pressure in the cabin is equivalent to the pressure at an altitude of 8000 feet and in the 787 series, this pressure is equivalent to 6000 feet. Here comes the concept of Cabin Altitude... therefore we say in technical terms that the cabin altitude is maintained at 6000 or 8000.
The oxygen level at the ground is approximately 20% whereas at high altitude oxygen is actually delivered to the cabin from huge oxygen tanks that the aircraft has and it is mixed with the ambient air and supplied in the cabin the oxygen is therefore maintained at 14%,6% less than the ground level. Understand here that the passengers are sitting down with very little physical activity whereas the crew is working on therefore this depletion of oxygen actually impairs and speeds up tissue damage at all levels.At high altitude because of very low density of outside air, the cabin air is recirculated after going through various filters where that CO2 is removed, where the microorganisms are filtered and fresh oxygen is mixed and circulated in the cabin, Therefore we use a high tech filters on the aircraft airconditioning system called HEPA filters, ( High-Efficiency Particulate Air ).
3 EXPOSURE TO GAMA RADIATION DUE HIGH ALTITUDE. A cabin crew or a cockpit crew lies very frequently at very high altitude and the atmosphere at that level is thin and the gamma radiation from the sun directly hits the aircraft. the aircraft skin cannot block the gamma radiation and therefore the crew and the passenger absorb these radiations. Since a passenger travels once in say three months on an average the crew flies 20 days a month and therefore the absorption of the radiation is very high among the crew. This leads to higher incidence of cancer among the crew. For the female crew this also has an effect on their reproductive system.
These physiological issues give rise to stress among the crew. Also because the crew has no definitive work schedule ( A crew is required to operate a night flight mostly as all our major international departures are at night) along with this the work-life balance of the crew is minimal or negligible. They sacrifice every date that may be important to them and their families. I can talk about myself. I have not seen my daughters growing up about 80% of the time as twenty days a month I am out of the country or home. My wife has spent innumerable lonely days and lonely anniversaries. My daughters birthday have been celebrated without their father at their side.. I would only talk to them or wish them from where ever I was. This gives rise to psychological stress
The physical stress can be managed with certain change in diets and do and don't before a flight, on a flight, and off a flight. ( Refer to my stress management PPT).