If you’re in the habit of hitting likes and hearts on Facebook and Instagram till two in the morning, you’re better off falling asleep the next day at your desk than in the cockpit of a Sukhoi Su-30MKI. But this, according to Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, is the problem amongst pilots in the Indian Air Force—pilots are apparently suffering from sleep deprivation because of late night indulgences in social media activities.
“A filter and check mechanism should be developed by aerospace medicine experts to monitor this and prevent pilots with sleep deprivation from flying an aircraft,” commented Dhanoa, while inaugurating the 57th annual conference of the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru. “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 Marshal BS Dhanoa
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. According to a report by The New Indian Express, Air Marshal CK Ranjan pointed a finger at electronic gadgets for this problem of lack of sleep amongst IAF pilots.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa compared sleep deprivation with liquor addiction and said it’s easier to identify an inebriated person than a sleep-deprived person. He bemoaned the lack of a tool that detects lack of sleep in pilots. He went on to explain how it is difficult to turn a blind eye to social media in this day and age. “Social media is here to stay. Soldiers will use social media. Our adversary will use social media for psychological warfare and deception. We must leverage it to our advantage,” he reportedly said. He stressed on the need for a way to discipline soldiers in cases like these.