The inherent reliability of the modern aircraft means pilots rarely experience actual emergencies, or novel, unexpected events. When events do occur, increased arousal levels may have pathological effects on pilots’ abilities to deal optimally with the situation, leading to increased likelihood of undesired aircraft states. Amygdala based appraisals of unexpected events may cause over-arousal through lack of expectation, lack of previous experience of such events (either directly or vicariously), and through poor individual perceptions of the ability to handle such events. Routine discussion of novel or emergency events widens pilots’ event knowledge database and raises expectation of event occurrence. Individual perception of efficacy in such events is heightened through increased and more readily accessible knowledge, allowing more positive appraisals, which reduces arousal level and improves performance. A pilot study using scenario based discussion at a New Zealand Airline showed very positive perceptions of utility and efficacy and will be discussed.
Martin, W. L.,
Murray, P. S.,
& Bates, P. R.
(2011). Reducing Pathological Stress Effects and Increasing Pilot Performance During Unexpected In-Flight Events.. 16th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 381-386.