The Effects of Startle on Pilots During Critical Events: A Case Study Analysis
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The ubiquitous reliability of the modern airliner continues to make aviation a very safe mode of transport. This reliability does not however extend to pilots it would seem, with major lapses in performance during critical events a common theme in major incidents and accidents. The conditioned expectation of normalcy amongst pilots may contribute to underperformance during surprise critical events, resulting in poor handling of complex situations. The effects of startle, an autonomic reaction with deleterious effects on information processing, may be a strong contributor to poor pilot performance during critical events. These effects may seriously impair situational awareness, decision making and problem solving, all critical skills in the handling of a complex emergency. The startle reaction is examined from a cognitive perspective, followed by an analysis of several recent aircraft accidents where startle effects may have been strong contributory factors. The link between startle and pilot expectation for such events is discussed with implications for further research and interventions.
30th EAAP Conference : Aviation Psychology & Applied Human Factors - working towards zero accidents Proceedings of
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Air Transportation and Freight Services
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified