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Mapping burnout syndrome in fixed wing and rotary wing pilots in Brazil

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CARMO, Guilherme Lourenço do [1], COSTA, Nagi Hanna Salm [2]

CARMO, Guilherme Lourenço do. COSTA, Nagi Hanna Salm. Mapping burnout syndrome in fixed wing and rotary wing pilots in Brazil. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 04, Vol. 03, pp. 71-90. April 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


The present study aims to map aspects that may be related to Burnout Syndrome,or Professional Exhaustion Syndrome, in pilots with fixed wings and rotary wings in Brazil. This syndrome is understood as a multidimensional occupational phenomenon that compromises the well-being of the individual, degrading his health, resulting from constant exposure to stressful stimuli in the work environment. The individual may present physiological and psychosocial symptoms, such as mood and behavior changes, stress, tiredness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion and loss of motivation. A field search was conducted using an electronic questionnaire developed on the Google Forms platform for data collection. The study included 70 pilots with fixed wings and rotary wings who were or have been employed in aviation as pilots. The results showed that most participants experience increased levels of physical and mental fatigue proportional to the workload and had a fall in their performance due to tiredness. Participants also noticed changes in their circadian cycle and immunity, possibly due to lack of routine at work. Most of them stated that they prioritize work over personal life and that they feel isolated due to the spread of covid-19 disease, even though their work activities are outside the context of a pandemic, and that the lack of routine compromises, to some degree, their interpersonal relationships and family contact. They also pointed out difficulty in denying roles to other team members and denying requests from their superiors. The results showed some factors that can generate the illness of the aeronaut due to professional exhaustion arising from the various demands present in their work environment. At the end of the study, it is suggested the conduct of new research that helps both in the discrimination of stressor stimuli to which aeronauts are exposed, as well as in the development of strategies to prevent the worker’s illness in the aerial modal, in order to reinforce the levels of safety in aviation and promote continuous improvement in the management of the human factor.

Keywords: Aviation Burnout Syndrome, Professional Burnout, Aeronaut Health, Aviation Safety, Quality of Life at Work.


The first air-heaviest flight occurred in 1906 in the Bagatelle camp in France. Since then, the aeronautical environment has undergone great and numerous advances, both with regard to the technologies employed in aircraft and in the development of training that increasingly empower professionals involved in the air modal, considering that in aviation operational safety is sought tirelessly. The idea is that errors and failures can be decreased every day both related to the operation and operation of aircraft and to human factors.

In the human aspect, occupational health has been the object of increasing attention in recent years, and it is increasingly necessary to develop research that sees psychological aspects of workers’ experiences. In this context, several studies have been dedicated to aviation as a work activity with the objective of better understanding the dynamics of human relations present in the aeronautical environment and of preventing the illness of the worker inserted in this environment.

Such studies have addressed topics such as incidence of anxiety, depression, fatigue, stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), among others, in flight attendants and pilots. Some studies seek to map the occurrence of these aspects in professionals working in the aerial modal, while others seek to propose intervention strategies, aiming to mitigate the appearance of these conditions.

In recent years, aviation has been attacked by a condition called Burnout Syndrome or Professional Exhaustion Syndrome. This syndrome is classified as a work disorder that occurs due to continuous contact with stressor stimuli present in the work environment. Among its main characteristics are emotional exhaustion and depersonalization associated with reduced professional satisfaction.

By identifying stressors that can trigger Burnout Syndrome,preventive activities could be developed by aviation managers to promote. even more, the quality of life at work, while increasing the operational safety of air activity.

Thus, the development of studies aimed at evaluating the routine of pilots, identifying stressors that may lead to the development of Burnout Syndrome in these professionals or that seek to identify methods that avoid professional exhaustion, is of paramount importance so that the increase of flight safety can be continuously promoted.

In view of the unquestionable relevance of maintaining the health of the aeronaut for both its quality of life and operational safety in the aerial modal, the objective of this work is to conduct a research with aviation professionals with a view to identifying possible factors that contribute to the development of Burnout Syndrome. Thus, some stimuli that may be related to the Syndrome will be mapped in a sample of fixed-wing and rotating-wing pilots in Brazil. For this, a field research was carried out, submitted to the Ethics and Research Committee (CEP) of PUC/GO with human beings. Data collection was done with the aid of an online questionnaire developed on the Google Forms platform. In addition, a bibliographic and documentary research was carried out on the subject.

Structurally, the research consists of five sections. The first one will discuss Burnout Syndrome or Professional Exhaustion Syndrome and will point out its main characteristics. The second section will deal with aviation as a working environment and the insertion of the pilot in this context. In the third section, the methodology of the present study will be described, with information about the research participants and data collection. In the fourth section, the Results and Discussion will be presented and, finally, final considerations will be made about the study.


Since the mid-1970s, market dynamics have begun to establish itself in a new way that has made individuals devote themselves even more to work, seeking better financial remuneration, achieving professional goals, among other benefits. The market model that was established since then ended up requiring more and more efforts from individuals, and this work overload caused some people to have their satisfaction reduced in relation to the work environment (CARLOTTO; CÂMARA, 2008) and started to develop occupational diseases.

Most occupational diseases are related to stress to some degree. Burnout Syndrome, alsoknown as Professional Exhaustion Syndrome, occurs due to the individual’s exposure to strong emotional tensions and due to chronic stress caused by high workload. According to Matias Filho (2018), it differs, however, from the concept of stress, since it would involve physical, psychological and/or physiological responses to stimuli that may or may not be related to work activity; Burnout is necessarily associated with work activity, thus being an occupational phenomenon.

The concept of Burnout, thus, began to be used in the literature to classify individuals in condition of exhaustion or professional exhaustion (MENDANHA; BERNARDES; SHIOZAWA, 2018). Burnout syndrome can put at risk the well-being of the individual, degrade his health and even lead to professional disability in extreme cases (SOUZA; BEZERRA, 2019). According to Lautert (1995), the main characteristics of Burnout Syndrome are emotional exhaustion and depersonalization associated with reduced professional satisfaction.

Burnout also has multidimensional features. The individual may present physiological and psychosocial symptoms, such as mood and behavior changes, high level of stress, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, tiredness, exhaustion, irritability, loss of motivation, discouragement, apathy, social isolation. Diagnosis is made through the combination of clinical analyses, and follow-up with health professionals and psychologists is necessary. It is pertinent to point out that the symptoms of the syndrome may be similar to other conditions, such as depression. Thus, the intervention to be adopted is specific for each case, and an appropriate diagnosis is necessary and that takes into account the peculiarity of each one (DIEHL; CARLOTTO; SANDRA, 2015; MASLACH; SCHAUFELI; LEITER, 2009).

In general, the individual begins by presenting mild symptoms that are often confused with other conditions. The onset of the first symptoms can be gradual, cumulative and, often, the worker does not discriminate the symptoms caused by the syndrome and ends up not seeking help (SIMÕES; BIANCHI, 2017).

A categorization of Burnout syndrome can be found in the literature in two profiles. The first refers to the individual who has mild symptoms, usually of malaise associated with tiredness and fatigue, but this does not affect or compromise the development of their activities. In the second profile, the individual develops more intense symptoms that are added to the factors mentioned above, such as aversion or compulsion for work, social isolation and exhaustion itself. In this case, as in the first profile, he is able to develop his professional activities; however, it faces greater commitment in the execution of tasks and, when not performed as expected, may present a feeling of guilt and failure (DIEHL; CARLOTTO; SANDRA, 2015).

Since 1999, since Decree 3,048/99 (BRASIL, 1999) has included Burnout Syndrome as a mental disorder and work-related behavior. It is included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), published by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a state of vital exhaustion. Its characterization is described in the Manual of Procedures for Health Services (MINISTÉRIO DA SAÚDE, 2001) and its formal diagnosis opens the possibility of removal, treatment and financial compensation (MASLACH; SCHAUFELI; LEITER, 2009).

Treatment usually integrates three levels of interventions: organizational strategies applied to the work environment itself; individual strategies focused on changing the individual’s behavior and installing repertoires that help him manage responses of stress, anger and anxiety and that promote the development of social skills, for example; and, at the last level of intervention, the use of combined strategies centered on the interaction of the individual with the occupational context. These medical and psychological interventions can reduce the wear and tear of the professional (MORENO et al., 2011).


The world’s top aviation body is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Portuguese, an entity that establishes general guidelines on working hours limits, salary base and other matters inherent to crew and flight safety. In Brazil, a signatory country of ICAO, there is, as a comgente normative, the Brazilian Aeronautics Code (CBA) – Law 7.565, 19 December 1986 — and the Aeronaut Law (Law No. 13,475/2017) which governs, alongside supplementary legislation and other infralegal regulations (such as ANAC regulations and instructions), matters inherent in civil aviation, establishing rules and limits related to crew members and airlines, based on international agreements and treaties (ICAO, 2019).

The CBA presents, among other provisions, some of the rights and duties of the aeronaut in Brazil, in compliance with these treaties and conventions. To be an aircraft pilot in Brazil, for example, it is necessary to perform technical and health aptitude tests (BRASIL, 1986).

On the other, the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) establishes in the Brazilian Civil Aviation Regulation number 67 (RBAC 67) the standards and evaluation criteria of the candidate for obtaining the Aeronautical Medical Certificate (CMA) – minimum criterion for the hiring and obtaining of the Certificate of Technical Qualification (CHT). The CMA aims to assess the physical and psychological capacity of the candidate and verify that it fits the safety requirements required for aircraft operation. Its validity varies according to the age, class and function of the professional (VENDRAMIM, 2018).

Aviation, which according to Riberio (2009) is one of the sectors of human activity that has developed the most in the last century, has become increasingly concerned not only with the development of equipment, technology, new aircraft models and training for pilots, but also with the health (and illness) of the aeronaut. It is known that the performance of the pilot is related to his technical knowledge, his non-technical skills and physical and emotional factors that are directly related to his professional performance (ALMEIDA et al., 2016; VENDRAMIM, 2018).

Among these factors, we highlight the stressor stimuli intrinsic to the aviation work environment. Pilots often deal with long working hours and the lack of a fixed routine that does not allow them to be present at important social and family moments, besides facing situations of fatigue, sleep deprivation, among other wear and tear (PALMEIRA, 2007), thus, it is possible to affirm that the irregular work day generates losses in the rest of the crew member (QUINTINO; SANTOS, 2020).

Vibrations caused as a function of air displacement in contact with aircraft surface; the incidence of excess solar radiation in the cockpit; engine noise; the compression and decompression to which the body is exposed; low relative humidity; any cabin depressurizations, which may alter oxygen saturation levels in the bloodstream; temperature variations; and changing time zones are some of the stressors that pilots come into contact with during the flight. They can cause gradual hearing loss, as well as dizziness, nausea, posture problems and headache, and also raise the level of tiredness and promote irritability and mood swings (RIUL; VABONI; SOUZA, 2012).

Even the automation of the aircraft, which aims to reinforce the criteria of operational safety, is able to generate stress in the professional. This is because automation, because it requires less manual effort of pilots in the flight, makes the cabin a monotonous and tedious environment, which can trigger drowsiness and feeling of insufficiency or professional dissatisfaction, because they feel “mere pushers of buttons” (RIUL; VABONI; SOUZA, 2012, p. 3).

Feijó, Câmara and Raggio (2014) consider that the demands of work refer to the technical and psychological demands that the worker faces in carrying out his activities. Such demands involve temporal pressure, concentration level, interruption of tasks and need to wait for the activities performed by other workers. The interpersonal relationships present in this work environment can also directly influence the professional’s life (CRUZ, 2016). The high turnover of professionals in a short period — change of crew — and the deficits of social skills in interaction with the crew or superiors are also potential stressful factors for aeronauts (PALMEIRA, 2007).

The health of professionals, therefore, has been, as already emphasized, an object of growing concern in the aeronautical environment, and it is urgent to conduct research on psychological aspects of the workers’ experiences (RUVIARO; BARDAGUI, 2010). According to Amorim, Bruscato and Nogueira-Martins, these studies can help preserve the health of pilots to the extent that their quality of life is tied to their physical and psychological health, which is reflected in operational safety indexes. In other words, ensuring the well-being of the professional ensures that the professional produces with more quality and efficiency, which translates into flight safety (KANNANE, 1994). It is complementary that this quality of life desired in the work context also involves the personal satisfaction of the professional (SAMPAIO, 2012).

Understanding the work environment and its characteristics are, therefore, of paramount importance for the evaluation of the professional routine in the aerial modal. This is because working conditions, which overmodo the culture of the organization, have a direct impact on the individual, increasing or decreasing the likelihood of developing Burnout syndrome.


This research was submitted for evaluation by the Research Ethics Committee (CEP) of the Pontifical Catholic University of Goiás, via Plataforma Brasil, on September 22, 2020 — Certificate of Presentation of Ethical Appreciation (CAAE) nº 38317020.2.0000.0037 —, and approved. All participants declared to be in agreement with the Free and Informed Consent Form (FICF) online, submitted to the CEP, attesting to their willingness and agreement to participate in the study. Due to the current epidemiological scenario, to protect the safety of participants and researchers, data were collected through the digital platform Google Forms. For the construction of the online questionnaire, a Lenovo brand notebook was used, with an Intel Core i3 processor, Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, 14-inch screen. Participants’ data were tabulated in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet editor.

Data of 70 fixed-wing pilots (airplanes) and rotary wings (helicopters) that met the following inclusion criteria were analyzed: being a civil aviation professional; have at least the Private Pilot license; be employed or have already been employed in aviation as a pilot; and have a valid Aeronautical Medical Certificate (CMA). The collection lasted a total of 17 days, starting on September 27 and completed on October 13.

After approval of the project by cep, the pilots were invited to participate in the survey through the following social media: WhatsAppInstagramFacebook, Telegram and LinkedIn. A link from the Google Forms platform was shared in these media, giving access to the form developed for the collection of search data. This form was divided into three sections.

The first section contained the online FICF. After reading the Term, pilots should mark the option “I READ and AGREE to participate in this research” or the option “I READ and DO NOT AGREE to participate in this research”. If they marked the option “I READ and DO NOT AGREE to participate in this survey”, they were directed to a tab in which appeared the message “Thank you very much!”. If they indicated the option “I READ and AGREE to participate in this research”, they were directed to the second section, which had 13 sociodemographic questions. Regardless of the option selected, a copy of the FICF was sent online to the e-mail indicated by the participants.

Sociodemographic questions and respective choice options were as follows: 1) Gender Identity: a) Male; b) Female; c) Another; 2) Age range: a) 18 to 25 years; b) 26 to 33 years; c) 34 to 41 years; d) 42 to 49 years; e) 50 years or more; 3) Marital Status: a) Single); (b) Stable Union; c) Married; d) Divorced); e) Widower; f) Other; 4) Educational level: a) Complete Higher Education; b) Incomplete Higher Education; c) Complete High School; 5) Certificate of Technical Qualification (CHT): a) Fixed Wings; (b) Rotating Wings; (c) Fixed Wings and Rotating Wings; 6) Aeronautical Medical Certificate (CMA): a) 1st Class; b) 2nd Class; c) Other; 7) License Type: a) Private Pilot; b) Commercial Pilot; c) Airline Pilot; d) Another; 8) Do you have approximately how many flight hours? – open response; 9) Are you or have been employed in aviation as a pilot?: a) Yes; b) No; 10) In which/which segment(s) of aviation operates or acted?: a) General Aviation; b) Executive Aviation; c) Military Aviation; d) Airline; (e) agricultural; f) Rescue; (g) Aeromedical Transport; h) Flight Instruction; i) Another; 11) Do you live in the city from which your flights depart?: a) Yes; b) No; 12) Do you have any proven chronic disease?: a) Yes; b) No; 13) If you have answered “YES” in the previous question, please specify – open answer.

The following section consisted of 34 questions that can be seen in Chart 1. These questions addressed aspects that may be related to Burnout Syndrome. In this section, the participants recorded their level of agreement with the statement presented according to a Likert Scale, widely used in research to measure postures and opinions. Participants received the following instruction: Answer the following items according to how close they approach their reality. If, at the moment, you are not acting as a pilot in a paid manner, try to remember what it was like when you were employed. To respond to the following, mark: 1 for “I totally disagree”; 2 for “Partially Disagree”; 3 for “Indifferent”; 4 for “Partially Agree”; 5 for “Totally Agree”.

Table 1 – Mapping issues of aspects that may be related to Burnout Syndrome

Source: elaborated by the authors (2020).


The survey counted, at first, with 102 responses to the electronic questionnaire made available on the Google Forms platform. Some participants, however, responded to the form more than once. It was defined, then, that only the first form completed by each participant would be computed. Thus, 13 forms were immediately excluded from data analysis, resulting in 89 questionnaires. Of this number, 19 were of people who were not employed or who were never employed in aviation as pilots; therefore, these data were also taken from the analysis, leaving a total of 70 participants. The following are the sociodemographic data and data from the burnout syndrome mapping questions of the 70 participants who met all the research criteria.


Of the 70 participants who had the data analyzed, 88.6% identified with the male gender and 11.4% with the female gender. Regarding the age group, 25.7% reported being between 18 and 25 years old; 32.9%, from 26 to 33 years; 28.6%, from 34 to 41 years; 2.9%, from 42 to 49 years; and 10.0% claimed to be 50 years or older. Regarding marital status, 54.3% declared themselves single; 32.9%, married; 10.0% say they are in a stable union; and are 2.9% divorced.

Regarding education, 85.7% stated that they had completed higher education; 10.0%, Incomplete Higher Education; and 4.3%, Complete High School. Regarding the Certificate of Technical Qualification (CHT), 91.4% said they had fixed wings; 1.4%, Rotary Wings; and 7.1%, fixed wings and rotating wings. Regarding the Aeronautical Medical Certificate (CMA), 95.7% have the 1st Class and 4.3% have others. As for the licenses, 4.3% of the participants declare to have the Private Airplane Pilot (PPA); 54.3%, commercial aircraft pilot (PCA); 32.9%, airline pilot (PLA); and 8.6% claimed to have another type of license. The approximate number of flight hours of the pilots ranged from 72 to 23,000 hours.

When asked about the professional segments in which they worked or in which they had already worked (being possible multiple choices), 11.4% pointed out the airline; 11.4%, military aviation; 10.0%, others; 7.1%, flight instruction; 5.7%, executive aviation; 4.3%, general aviation; 2.9%, aeromedical transport; 2.9%, agricultural aviation; and 2.9%, resgaste.

Of the 70 participants analyzed, 67.1% reported living in the city from which their flights depart (base), while 32.9% reported not living in the city from which the flights depart. Finally, 98.6% reported not having a proven chronic disease and 1.4% reported having hypertension in this case.


The Likert scale was used so that participants could select the option that most closely approached their reality. The scale had values from 1 to 5, being 1 “Totally disagree”, 2 “Disagree”, 3 “Indifferent”, 4 “I agree” and 5 “I totally agree. For data analysis purposes, concordant opinions (4 “I agree” and 5 “Totally agree” and disagreements (1 “Totally disagree”, 2 “I disagree” were grouped.

When asked if they felt increased levels of physical fatigue proportional to the work day, 72.9% of the participants said they agreed with the statement, 22.9% said they were indifferent and 4.3% disagreed. When asked if they felt increased levels of mental fatigue proportional to the working day, 85.7% of the participants stated that yes, 7.1% said they were indifferent and 7.1% said they were not. 80.0% said they had a drop in performance when they were tired, 11.4% said they did not realize it and 8.6% said they were indifferent to the relationship of performance and tiredness.

When asked if they felt tired even if they were outside their work environment, 40% of the participants disagreed, 31.4% agreed and 28.6% said they were indifferent. When asked if they felt tired even after the days off, 70.0% of the participants said no, 20.0% said they felt tired even after the days off and 10.0% said they were indifferent. 54.3% said they were able to leave work, 30% said they were incapable and 15.7% said they were indifferent. The decrease in immunity according to the demand for work is not perceived by 57.1%, while 24.3% perceive it in a way that is directly proportional to the workload and 18.6% said they were indifferent.

The data show that pilots have an irregular working and rest day (ITANI, 2009). Thus, it is necessary to manage the workload well, in order to allow periods of rest, rest and redoing, to keep preserved the health of the aeronaut and, at the same time, maintain high levels of flight safety that are directly related to the performance of this professional (DIEHL; CARLOTTO; SANDRA, 2015). It is also known that very high levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, can, in fact, compromise the immunological, renal and muscular regulation of the individual (SOARES; ALVES, 2006).

Most participants reported feeling increased levels of physical and mental fatigue (72.9% and 85.7%, respectively) proportional to the working hours, which would be expected. The duration of the working hours of aeronauts is a variable that also influences flight safety, as already nodded. Among the participants, 80% found that there is a drop in their performance at work when tired. The fatigued pilot increases the latency time of his response, which consists of the time of emission of a behavior after the presentation of a stimulus. In emergencies, the time for decision-making and problem solving needs to be as soon as possible. Excessive tiredness can also compromise the quality of interpersonal relationships (DIEHL; CARLOTTO; SANDRA, 2015; QUINTINO; SANTOS, 2020), which also impacts flight safety, since interaction and in-cabin communication are paramount in this sense.

An increase in the workload implies increased contact with physiological stressors present in the aircraft – such as noise, vibration, temperature changes -, factors that can even result in a change in oxygen saturation in the bloodstream, due to air thinning in the aircraft, among other consequences, as pointed out by Riul; Vaboni and Souza (2012). The very lack of routine, time zone changes, high crew turnover, ergonomic issues – such as sitting too long in the cabin, or even sitting very close to another pilot in the cockpit – and the need to handle possible interpersonal conflicts, all these stimuli can also be stressors for the individual in their work context.

Also regarding the reported discomforts, 90% of the participants reported not feeling physical symptoms, such as headaches, on a recurrent basis during the work; 5.7% said they were indifferent and 4.3% said they felt such symptoms. About muscle pain, 81.4% stated that they did not feel them recurrent during a flight, 10% said they were indifferent and 8.6% said they felt them.

When asked if they presented changes in appetite when dealing with work-related issues; 65.7% did not notice alterations; 24.3% had alterations and 10% were indifferent. Regarding the changes in the circadian cycle resulting from the work routine, 58.6% stated that they were perceit; 27.1% did not notice such change and 14.3% were indifferent. On the other hand, sleep nights were lower when in high demand for work, 54.3% perceived this decrease, while 32.9% said they did not feel it and 12.9% declared that they were indifferent. About the difficulty of concentration when performing flight activities, 75.7% of the participants declared no difficulty, 15.7% said they were indifferent and 8.6% perceived difficulty in concentration.

The answers given by the participants suggest that most of them do not experience physical symptoms, such as recurrent headaches during work or muscle pain attributed to flight driving, nor do they present changes in appetite due to work-related questions. However, they seem to notice changes in the circadian cycle, which usually oscillates between day and night shifts, and ends up promoting changes in the sleep/wake cycle. Changes in working hours can be physiological stressors for the individual, besides altering the circadian rhythm and the release of hormones such as cortisol and melatonin, generally responsible for awakening and sleep, respectively. They also imply changes in the feeding routine, leisure moments and social interactions (RÉGIS FILHO, 2002).

Regarding social issues, 45.7% stated that they felt distant from family contact, even outside the context of a pandemic; 40% said they did not feel distant and 14.3% said they were indifferent. On the other hand, 44.3% of the interviewees believe that the lack of a fixed routine somehow impairs their interpersonal relationships, while 42.9% disagree with the statement and 12.9% are indifferent. 47.1% agreed that they prioritize work over personal life, 34.3% said no and 18.6% declared themselves indifferent to this aspect. When asked if the demands of work had priority under their personal life, 40% agreed, 41.4% disagreed and 18.6% said they were indifferent. Regarding personal life, 70.0% said that they do not usually feel isolated, even outside the context of a pandemic, 20.0% stated that they feel isolated and 10.0% said they were indifferent.

It is known that the lack of a fixed routine and even tiredness due to the demands of the profession can have an impact on the individual’s interpersonal and family relationships (RÉGIS FILHO, 2002).

In the present study, most participants said, as seen, to feel distant from family contact, even before the pandemic, and believe that the lack of a fixed routine impairs their interpersonal relationships.

When asked if they felt unmotivated in the face of work overload, 55.7% stated that they did not, 34.3% said they felt unmotivated and 10.0% said they were indifferent. When asked if they felt uncomfortable when they were overloaded at work, 47.1% said no, 32.9% said yes and 20.0% said they were indifferent. 42.9% of the participants feel unmotivated when they cannot meet all the demands of their work, 31.4% said they did not feel this way and 25.7% said they were indifferent. When asked if they felt insufficient when something ran away from the plan during their work routine, 60.0% said they did not feel that way, 20.0% agreed with the statement and the other 20.0% said they were indifferent.

When asked if they felt better having to deal with a high workload, 44.3% reported that no, 28.6% said they felt better in this way, and 27.1% said they were indifferent; and, when asked if they have a preference for a work routine with high demand, 38.6% said yes, the same number of participants said no (38.6%) and 22.9% said they were indifferent.

Regarding the statement “I feel that the demands of work never end”, 40.0% identified with the situation, 45.7% disagreed and 14.3% said they were indifferent. 32.9% of the participants stated that they become impatient when they had to deal with high demand for work, 41.4% said they did not stay and 25.7% said they were indifferent. 32.9% said they felt that there are always pending issues in their work, 54.3% said they did not feel it, and 12.9% said they were indifferent.

The results indicate that most participants do not feel unmotivated or uncomfortable in the face of work overload. 28.6%, inclusive, report feeling better with a high workload. However, 40% reported that they feel that the demands of work never end and 32.9% feel that there are always pending issues in their work. The analysis of this result should be made taking into account the moment in which the research was performed, in a context of pandemic caused by the spread of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of Covid-19 disease. This caused numerous changes in the economic scenario of the country and the world, producing a wave of instability, insecurity and unemployment, with serious, direct and immediate impact on aviation. Many professionals lost their jobs, others had their work hours and/or salary reduced, and others faced and faced insecurity about staying in their jobs, agreeing with the contractors temporary and disadvantageous agreements to pilots.

These factors may have influenced the participants’ statements regarding the preference for work overload. Another important point refers to the fact that there is a fixed remuneration and another variable in aviation. Some pilots receive a salary proportional to their working hours — the amount of hours and/or kilometers flown — and benefits such as daily and food aid. When pay is directly linked to productivity, this makes the individual tend to engage more and more at work. On the other hand, it is known that this increase in work overload can result in excessive wear and tear of the pilot and, in effect, cause him to increase his levels of stress, tiredness, fatigue and eventually reach a level of professional exhaustion that characterizes Burnout Syndrome. By having its performance compromised, flight safety is now at risk (PIETRO, 2010).

The feeling of insufficiency in the face of labor demands is capable of compromising the individual’s perception of his/her professional performance. He may feel unmotivated by not being able to meet all employer requests. One of the characteristics of Burnout Syndrome is exactly the feeling of insufficiency in the face of the demands of the work environment. Requirements tied to the temporal pressure and the required concentration level start to require more from the professional. Thus, it is suggested that market dynamics may be related to the individual’s perception of the work overload parameter, which would justify the data in disagreement with the literature (FEIJÓ; CÂMARA; RAGGIO, 2014).

When asked about not realizing the time to pass when they were at work, 57.1% said they did not understand, 21.4% said they were indifferent and 21.4% said they did. Asked if they had negative thoughts in relation to work, 77.1% did not agree, 12.9% agreed and 10.0% said they were indifferent. The fact that most participants declare that they do not realize the time to spend at work and that they do not generally have negative thoughts about work suggests that this should be a reinforcing work activity for pilots, not only with regard to remuneration, but to the conduct of the flight itself. It is a recurring feature in the air environment the professional feel realized when flying. Thus, it can be inferred that there is a relationship between the work activity and the professional satisfaction of the participants (RUVIARO; BARDAGUI, 2010).

Among the participants, 57.1% stated that they had no difficulty in positioning themselves in front of their superiors, 24.3% said they had difficulty and 18.6% said they were indifferent; however, 44.3% reported that they feel uncomfortable denying a request to superiors, 40% said they were not and 15.7% said they were indifferent. Regarding the ability to delegate functions to other team members, 84.3% said they had difficulty with this aspect, 8.6% scored to be indifferent and 7.1% said they had difficulty in delegateing tasks.

Among the stressors that pilots deal with in their work environment are those related to interpersonal skills. Most participants said they felt uncomfortable denying a request to superiors and delegated roles to other team members. This causes the individual to take on an even greater workload, which causes greater wear and tear for the professional and leaves him overwhelmed/exhausted – one of the symptoms of Burnout Syndrome.

In the item that questioned whether they perceived that the work routine did not allow moments of rest, 68.6% disagreed, 15.7% agreed and another 15.7% said they were indifferent. When asked if they perceived that the work routine did not allow them to have leisure time, 58.6% said they disagreed, 27.1% agreed with the statement and 14.3% said they were indifferent. Most participants evaluated that their work routine allowed moments of rest and leisure, which is an important point, since moments of time off and rest function as protective factors for the appearance of Burnout Syndrome,thus preventing professional illness (BORGES; DIEHL, 2015).


Considering that the objective of this research was to map, within the reality of the interviewed pilots, factors that may be related to Burnout Syndrome,it was found that the participants declared to perceive the increase in levels of physical and mental fatigue proportionally to the demands of work. Excessive tiredness leaves the professional exhausted, compromising their attention, concentration, response emission time and interfering in their performance, factors potentially capable of affecting, even, the safety of the operation. On the other hand, it was verified the importance of time off and moments of rest and leisure for the reestablishment of aeronaut health in a global way. These moments can be understood, including as protective factors for the individual, helping to prevent illness.

The alternation of aeronaut work shifts seems to interfere in the circadian cycle and reflects on the quality of sleep and even in the professional’s immune system, generating wear on the individual who may, in the long run, be a precursor to other health problems. In addition, the constant change of routine and crew can interfere in the professional and personal interpersonal relationships of the individual.

Burnout Syndrome encompasses several of these conditions studied that end up leading the individual to a scenario of illness due to a exhaustion resulting from his work activity. The present study verified some of these factors.

Thus, the importance of developing other studies that investigate both risk factors and protective factors for workers’ health in the aerial modal is emphasized.

In addition, it would be interesting to develop support programs for pilots (Pilot Support Programs/PSP) that use psychoeducation in mental health as an instrument to promote the health of the aeronaut. In this type of work, individuals are taught to observe their own behavior – thoughts, feelings, actions and bodily responses – in front of stimuli present in their work environment and outside of it. Such discrimination can help prevent the onset and aggravation of illnesses by the professional, if an intervention is made at the beginning of symptoms.


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[1] Graduation in progress in Aeronautical Sciences.

[2] Guidance counselor. PhD in Behavioral Sciences.

Submitted: February, 2021.

Approved: April, 2021.

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Guilherme Lourenço do Carmo

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