The Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said the social media addiction among pilots has lead to sleep deprivation, which most likely caused a fighter aircraft crash in 2013.
“Everybody appears to be spending long hours on social media, late nights. Most flight briefings, sometimes, are as early as 6 am and pilots haven't had enough sleep,” Air Chief Dhanoa said while inaugurating the 57th annual conference of the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru, last Friday.
"We had an unfortunate air crash at Uttarlai (near Barmer in Rajasthan) in the year 2013 that resulted because of continuous sleep deprivation for a number of days. This is something which is a new challenge for us because of the changes in our society," he briefed further.
According to the Air Chief Marshal, this problem of sleep deprivation is aggravated in the summer when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Pilots are expected to do early morning sorties as they may not be able to do them later in the day when the temperature rises.
Dhanoa urged the Institute of Aerospace Medicine to create a system to identify whether pilots had enough sleep before flying sorties.
"Earlier if a pilot had one drink too many, the bar man would know. If he failed to notice, the others would know and he would be laid off flying for the day. Today we even have breath analysers," he said.
"Therefore, we need a system where one can find out if a pilot had enough sleep," he added.