Drone operators "burning out," Air Force cuts down flights
After a ten-fold increase in drone piloting in the past ten years, the Air Force has announced that it will reduce its drone output from 65 to 60 per day due to the stress inflicted on pilots.
Although the demand for drone usage in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq is high, drone pilots have been routinely quitting after their tours. But even though pilots are operating the drones from long distances, the fear of killing civilians is a persistent stress factor.
A study from 2013 indicated that drone pilots have equal amounts of stress related mental health problems as manned aircraft pilots.
For some, the contrast of making life or death decisions during the day and coming home to a family life at night is just too great. Former pilot Bruce Black says, “After something like that, you come home and have to make all the little choices about the kids’ clothes or if I parked in the right place. And after making life and death decisions all day, it doesn’t matter. It’s hard to care.”
To try and ease the stress, drone piloting centers have employed human performance teams on call for pilots when they need to decompress.
Image: Wikimedia Commons