Document Detail

Pilot behaviors in the face of adverse weather: A new look at an old problem.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15945399     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
INTRODUCTION: Weather-related general aviation accidents remain one of the most significant causes for concern in aviation safety. Previous studies have typically compared accident and non-accident cases. In contrast, the current study does not concentrate on occurrence outcome. Instead, the emphasis is on the different behaviors that pilots exhibit in the face of adverse weather and, by inference, on the decision-making processes that underlie those behaviors. METHODS: This study compares three weather-related behaviors that reflect different levels of risk: visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions ('VFR into IMC'); precautionary landing; and other significant weather avoidance actions. Occurrence data (n=491) were drawn from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau database of aviation occurrences, and included weather-related accidents, incidents, and 'normal operationsd.' RESULTS: There were few significant differences between the three weather-related behavior groups in terms of pilot demographics, aircraft characteristics, geographic or environmental factors, or absolute flight distances. The pattern of relative flight distances (a psychological construct) was markedly different for the three groups, with pilots in the weather avoidance group being distinguished by taking timely action. DISCUSSION: The relative distance results suggest that the mid-point of the flight can be a 'psychological turning point' for pilots, irrespective of the absolute flight distance involved. Hence, pilots' behavior was sometimes influenced by psychological factors not related to any particular operational aspect of the flight. The results of the weather avoidance group indicate that a safe pilot is a proactive pilot. Dealing with adverse weather is not a one-off decision but a continually evolving process. This aspect is discussed in terms of the concept of 'mindfulness'.
Richard Batt; David O'Hare
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Aviation, space, and environmental medicine     Volume:  76     ISSN:  0095-6562     ISO Abbreviation:  Aviat Space Environ Med     Publication Date:  2005 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2005-06-10     Completed Date:  2005-09-09     Revised Date:  2007-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7501714     Medline TA:  Aviat Space Environ Med     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  552-9     Citation Subset:  IM; S    
Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Canberra, Australia.
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MeSH Terms
Accidents, Aviation / psychology*,  statistics & numerical data
Aerospace Medicine*
Australia / epidemiology
Databases as Topic
Decision Making*
Middle Aged
Risk Factors

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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