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Effects of Acute Stress on Aircrew Performance: Literature Review and Analysis of Operational Aspects  (2015)
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Situational stress can adversely affect the cognition and skilled performance of pilots, as well as experts in other domains. Emergencies and other threatening situations require pilots to execute infrequently practiced procedures correctly and to use their skills and judgment to select an appropriate course of action, often under high workload, time pressure, and ambiguous indications, all of which can be stressful. Our current study, consisted of three parts, starting with a critical review of the research literature on the effects of stress on skilled performance, going back to World War II and continuing to recent and more sophisticated studies of the cognitive effects of anxiety. In the second part we analyzed the specific ways stress may have impaired the performance of airline crews in twelve major accidents, selected for diversity of the situations the crews encountered. The third part examined the operational significance and practical implications of the findings from the first two parts, suggested specific ways to reduce the harmful effects of stress on flight crews, and identified aspects requiring further research. Even though this study focused on flight crews, the findings apply to the effects of stress on the skilled performance of experts in almost any domain.
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Acute, Aircrew, Analysis, Aspects, Effects, Literature, Operational, Performance, Review, Stress
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NASA Technical Memorandum TM-2015-218930. Moffett Field, CA: NASA Ames Research Center
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019