Improving pilot decision-making in situations of high stakes, high stress, and time pressures

Paul Allen Craig, Tennessee State University


This study examined general aviation instrument rated pilots in decision making situations. A total of fifty-eight volunteer participants first flew a "real world" scenario in a Frasca 141 Flight Training Device (FTD). The pilots were then randomly divided into Traditional (control) and Naturalistic (treatment) groups. The groups had separate seminar/workshops on October 11, 1997. The Traditional group received a standard Instrument Flight lesson, while the Naturalistic group received training on Naturalistic Decision Making techniques. All participants were then given a second scenario in the Frasca 141. A total of 157.6 hours was spent in the FTDs. The analysis of the data that emerged utilized two general methods: Rationalistic and Naturalistic. The Rationalistic Methods included statistical tests to prove statistically significant differences. The Naturalistic Methods included pilot behavior categorizing and coding. The discoveries made in the project are related and recommendations made to flight instructors, flight students, air traffic controllers, the FAA, and industry groups. The recommendations are made to provide a positive impact on safety and lower general aviation aircraft accidents by educating pilots to become better decision makers.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Occupational psychology|Vocational education

Recommended Citation

Paul Allen Craig, "Improving pilot decision-making in situations of high stakes, high stress, and time pressures" (1998). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9907839.