Night Vision Goggles: Fatigue Literature Review Chapter

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[. . .] The signal-processing unit sends images in various colors after which the infrared filter excessive colors (Parush, 2011). Although the NVG is a great night viewing device, it is prudent to note that the process involved in image processing deters quality. In most cases, pilots will often struggle to view all details provided in the NVG display hence creating the problems of fatigue and cognitive misjudgments (Bailey, 2012).


Navigation risk

Piloting, especially in field combat is a demanding task that requires considerate physical movements. The pilot mounted with the NVG visualizer requires constant view of the environment surrounding him. Failing to do so may result to accidents. According to Rash et al. (2009), accidents involved in military flights are primarily caused by poor visualization. In addition, there have been issues related to lack of proper orientation to the technologies. Until recently, there have been many vendors of night vision goggles. Most vendors have customized features with intent of outdoing other players (Gallagher et al., 2008). As a result, the devices do not meet similar industrial standards. For instance, a pilot could previously be using a narrow FOV, which was traditionally designed to have a lower peripheral vision. This may result in increased spatial disorientation. However, in a different mission, the pilot may be using a larger FOV as determined by the demands of that mission. Eventually, pilots find it hard to meet demands of a device with a higher peripheral vision. This not only causes anxiety / fatigue to the pilot, but also exposes the pilot to higher risks of accidents (Craig et al., 2006).

Posture problems

The configuration aspect has a different impact in how human physiological functions because of the additional weight and luminance. In most cases, NVGs cause neck strains, injuries, and headaches. First, the physical aspect of mounting is inefficient and creates an uncomfortable piloting manner (Salazar et al., 2003). The physical issues are related to the user are anthropometry and inadequacy of navigation space: piloting requires sudden and agile moves. In fact, weight and configuration problems from mounted equipment are primarily responsible for the creation of instability. The net effect is the gross neck and muscle strain leading to fatigue problems: pervasive head, neck, and spine injuries will result in aviation crashes (Hung-Sheng et al., 2013). In any case, the device weight and the changing center of gravity do not correlate positively with human physiological functions. The pilot will be forced to spend more energy in trying to balance the heavy device than concentrating on field activities and craft safety (Oldham, 1990).

Neurotransmission Problems

Constant exposure to these working conditions characterized by head, neck, and spine injuries often result in central nervous breakdown and development of chronic of headaches (Brickner, 1980). Headaches are common complaints of pilots navigating in demanding situations. This is linked to visual difficulties, flight neck discomforts, and constrained lighting including long working hours in complex computer cockpits (Falla, 2004). In addition, the combined effect of headaches, nervous and sight breakdowns is the primary cause of bone fractures. The dysfunction associated with bone fractures is the constant fatigue and general disorientation (Salazar et al., 2003).

Body vibration and gravity

A moving helicopter vibrates heavily and affects the human sitting vertically on a cockpit. Vibration can be a measure on the scale of principle harmonic frequency of 5Hz. Heavy vibration induced constraints energy transfer creating the standard frequency to 4.5 Hz (Chen et al., 2007). Vibration causes the pilot to suffer Z-axis displacement. Z-axis displacements are emitted from the floor of the aircraft this is caused by vibration transmission emitted from the buttocks of a vertically seated individual. In any event, most body parts are engaged either hand, legs, buttocks, head, and back (Gawron & Priest, 2001).

However, the neck, which is supporting the head does nothing and experiences severe vibration. Naturally, the neck is configured to support diverse vibration frequencies like when one is running (Hung-Sheng et al., 2013). Nonetheless, the neck is constrained severe if it has additional weight to support. Vibration, vertical sitting problems, and long working hours are the primary cause factors of spine problems. In fact, neck induced vibrations is primary responsible for the development of the neck and back muscle fatigue (Chen et al., 2007). Constrained neck and back impairs the brain central processing functions forcing the pilot to develop severe vision problems (Gallagher et al., 2008).

Cognitive Risk

Chronic mental problems caused by fatigue are a result of impaired judgment. Pilots exposed to these conditions are at a greater risk of suffering myoelectric disturbances because of the muscle fatigue and relative neck pains. In fact, EMG frequency has outcompeted by demanding neuron-functions. In addition, constant neck pain result in disturbances related to cognitive judgments. Impairments of muscles, heightened abrupt activities, respiratory problems and constrained visions impact heavily on the quality of syntax required in a given activity. Research has established that pilots working in demanding condition not only suffer a mental breakdown while at work but socially (Gawron & Priest, 2001).

Technically, constant neck pain demands increased muscular and electrical activity. In any event, the body must work optimally in order to counter the combat rising demands like visions, gravity, and posture problems. However, the body spends more concentration in responding to weight problems constraining the neck. Constant neck problems often force the pilot to develop lower output of neuro-functions. The pilot not only suffers mild and temporary fatigue, but the breakdown of neuron-process. In fact, the pilot will start forgetting basic operational processes because of the deeply drenched fatigue problems. In addition, the pilot may develop chronic physical problems because of the declined cognitive levels (Falla, 2004).

Career dissatisfaction

While it is common knowledge that piloting is a great career, the notion is contested by the development of challenges on one's cognition while in practice. The practice requires the pilot to think and act in demanding situations. Inefficiencies arising from the use of night vision goggles causes neck problems and the eventual development of anxiety and anger. Research has endeavored to relate air crashes to the mal-functionality of the pilot. A pilot in a combat mission takes a lot of time in preparation than initially considered by industry developers. Pilot preparation can take up to thirty percent of total productive time (Parush, 2011).

In combat situations, the pilot is expected to work effectively in operating the planes besides responding to multiple enemy threats (Salazar et al., 2003). Combat environments may make someone to be inefficient and may affect their careers during evaluations and appraisals. The pilot's capacity to act efficiently during such trying moments is seen as a sign of professionalism; people ignore the challenges therein. The pilot is under evaluation that severally lives depends on the decision he or she makes. In addition, the pilot could be suffering from psychological factors besides the physiological and physical constraints. In remote combat missions that could be thousands of kilometers from home, the pilot could be thinking about his family or any interpersonal relationships. This also creates inefficiencies when making suitable judgments; constrained judgments further accelerate fatigue levels. As a result, the pilot might consider piloting an unprofitable venture and the pilot might leave a demanding military aviation career to take light jobs in other airline fields.


This research document has accessed several implications of Night Vision Goggles as sources of fatigue problems and poor judgments among pilots. The report has discouraged use of the NVG systems in demanding combat environments. However, several remedies can be adopted to manage the constraints associated with NVG. Research has established that NVG primary function is to enhance one's vision in dark environments. The goal is to ensure that night missions are tackled with minimized risk of being spotted by enemies. Even with the challenges, this study has proposed and supported the proper application of night vision devices on aircrafts.

Night vision devices mounted on the aircraft can be aided by computers affixed on the decks. The pilot will be monitoring night vision by viewing the computer strategically situated on the aircraft cockpit. This will salvage the pilot from having to carry a heavier device. Secondly, the pilot will have the privilege of using normal night light or night vision powered light at ease. Since he pilot will not have mounted device on his head, this will reduce vision problems besides minimizing neck problems, fatigue, and career dissatisfaction. It is also recommended that further research in the field of piloting-neuroscience/psychology and labor mobility factors must establish ways of eradicating the identified challenges (Gawron & Priest, 2001).


It is clear that various challenges accompany the use of Night Vision goggles in demanding combat environments. The study has established NVG as the primary cause factor of fatigue leads to career dissatisfaction. In particular, it is evident that the interrelation between physical, physiological (both combined results fatigue) and psychological factors leads to career dissatisfaction. The recommendations provided have… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Night Vision Goggles: Fatigue.  (2014, February 21).  Retrieved February 15, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Night Vision Goggles: Fatigue."  21 February 2014.  Web.  15 February 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Night Vision Goggles: Fatigue."  February 21, 2014.  Accessed February 15, 2019.