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The effectiveness of airline pilot training for abnormal events  (2013)
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Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of airline pilot training for abnormal in-flight events.

Background: Numerous accident reports describe situations in which pilots responded to abnormal events in ways that were different from what they had practiced many times before. One explanation for these missteps is that training and testing for these skills has become a highly predictable routine for pilots who arrive to the training environment well aware of what to expect. Under these circumstances, pilots get plentiful practice in responding to abnormal events but may get little practice in recognizing them and deciding which responses to offer.

Method: We presented eighteen airline pilots with three abnormal events that are required during periodic training and testing. Pilots were presented with each event under the familiar circumstances used during training, and also under less predictable circumstances as they might occur during flight.

Results: When presented in the routine ways seen during training, pilots gave appropriate responses and showed little variability. However, when the abnormal events were presented unexpectedly, pilots' responses were less appropriate and showed great variability from pilot to pilot.

Conclusion: The results suggest that the training and testing practices used in airline training may result in rote-memorized skills that are specific to the training situation and that offer modest generalizability to other situations. We recommend a more complete treatment of abnormal events that allows pilots to practice recognizing the event, and choosing and recalling the appropriate response.

Application: The results will aid the improvement of existing airline training practices.
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abnormal, airline, effectiveness, events, pilot training
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Human Factors 55(3), 477-485
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019