Pilot Judgment and Aeronautical Decision Making; Naturalistic Decision Making

The main causes of accidents in aeronautical decision making to a great extent dwell on the judgment of the pilot. Experienced pilots know that timely decision making leaves one with more options of future decisions to make. The inevitable losses that may result from imminent danger are often avoidable in cases where the pilot’s intuition is on high. Everybody wins when a good and timely decision is taken.

The premise of this technical paper focuses on the causes of fatal accidents in pilots’ decision making process. It draws resource from various primary sources, which include conference proceedings, symposia, journals and actual research work results. It maintains that the best decisions are reached before the take-off time of the flight schedule.

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The procedure of work engages a unique mix of Intellectual discoveries in balance with actual practical on-site decision making procedures with simulated Situation Deteriorations for pilots.
The work concludes that since of 32 pilots, over two-thirds continued in deteriorating weather situation, critical examination of Situation Deterioration may lead to safer thought options.
Introduction
Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) is a methodical approach to the mental procedure used by pilots of airplanes to consistently find out the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances.
ADM is a systematic and intelligent approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. In other words, the entire goal of good decision making is in actual fact doing the right thing, and at the right time. It is however also worthy of note that poor decision is the chief basis for every form of accident.
Poor decision making is the root cause of aviation accidents. The poor judgment chain, sometimes referred to as the “error chain,” is a term used to describe this concept of contributing factors in a human factors-related accident. Breaking one link in the chain normally is all that is necessary to change the outcome of the sequence of events (FAA-H-8083-25, 2003).
Naturalistic decision making (NDM) falls clearly within the realm of bounded rationality. It is the art of making decisions with limited time, knowledge, and other resources. NDM deals with real world tasks rather than with classical decision experiments. For it to be, valid models have to describe what information the decision making process actually seeks, how they interpret it, and which decision rules they actually use (Todd & Gigerenzer, 2001).
Goh and Wiegmann, (2001) reported a study on the degree to which situation assessment, risk perception and motivation shape pilots’ decisions to go on with or redirect from adverse weather conditions, making use of a dynamic simulation of a visual flight rules (VFR) flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)
Situation in which weather-related factors change over time, where thirty-two non-instrument rated pilots (age ranging from 18 to 47 years; median age being 19 years) from the University of Illinois’ pilot training program actively participated in the study.
The median entire VFR flight experience of the thirty-two pilots was sixty hours (ranging from 30 to 259.4 hours). All the pilots had flown at least one cross-country flight (median being 3; ranging from 2 to 13) as at the time the study was being carried out. Only fourteen pilots had definite instrument flight rules (IFR) experience, which ranged from 0.3 to 10 hours.
The result of the experiment showed that of the total of 32 pilots, 22 (which accounts for 68.75% – more than two-thirds) chose to fly into the worsening weather condition, while the rest 10 (that is 31.25%) made a decision to divert.
The findings revealed a proportion that exceeded chance expectations as shown by a Chi-square analysis, χ2(1) = 4.5, p<.05, implying that the pilots in the study, were more likely to go on with than change the course of the flight. About seventy-five percent of all aircraft accidents are a result of pilot error, with a large chunk of it being caused by poor decisions within split seconds.
Goh and Wiegmann’s (2001) analysis of General Aviation (GA) accident records from the NTSB reveals that overconfidence may be a factor or cause that is unique to VFR flight into IMC accidents.
Aviation consultant Pope, J.A. (1990) in Decision making for air ambulance administrators quoted the conclusions of the report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (No. DOT/FAA/DS-88-8, dated February 1990) that the most critical administrative aeronautical decision areas for air ambulance or emergency medical service (EMS) administrators are: accident characteristics; pilot characteristics; weather restrictions; training needs; and risk management.

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