Aging Pilot Discussion for 2012 Lighthawk Fly-In


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Key Dismukes led a discussion on aging pilots for the 2012 LightHawk Fly-IN

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Aging Pilot Discussion for 2012 Lighthawk Fly-In

  1. 1. Click to edit Master title style How Age Affects Pilot Performance• Click to edit Master text styles• Second level• Third level Key Dismukes, Ph.D.• Retired Chief Scientist for Aerospace Human Factors Fourth level• Fifth level NASA Ames Research Center Lighthawk Annual Fly-In 6 October 2012 1
  2. 2. True or False? Click to edit Master title style If I continue to pass my medical exam I am good to go.• Click to edit Master text styles If my stick and rudder skills are good I can still fly• safely. level Second• Third level• Fourth level• Fifth level 2
  3. 3. Questions to Consider Click to edit Master title style • What aspects of pilot performance change with age? • Do all aspects change at the same rate and in the same way?• Click to edit Master text styles • Is it all downhill?• Second level• • Do all pilots change at the same rate and in the same way? Third level• •Fourth levelperformance is deteriorating? Will I know if my• •Fifth level How can I evaluate how my performance is affected? • Are there ways to protect against the effects of age? • Is there a set time to hang it up? 3
  4. 4. Focus of this Talk Click to edit Master title style• Provide a foundation to help you answer questions about aging pilots − Based on large body of scientific research (will not go into detail)• Click to edit Master text styles• Will not discuss frank pathology• Second conditions such as hypertension, stroke, cataracts, etc. − Medical level• Third level and treat these conditions − Usually can detect• More subtle threat is gradual deterioration of cognitive• Fourth level• processes Fifth level• Cognition = How the brain/mind takes in, processes, and uses information to perceive, remember, think, and take action 4
  5. 5. Two Basic Modes of Cognitive Processing Click to edit Master title style1. Executive (a.k.a., “controlled”): • Closely associated with thinking and awareness• Click to edit Master text styles • Slow, effortful, serial, small capacity• Second level (one step at a time)• Third level • Attention & working memory• Fourth level • Required for dealing with novel or difficult situations, planning, problem-solving• Fifth level • Used, for example, when programming complex unfamiliar route into flight computer • Emergencies, equipment failures, high workload situations challenge executive processing 5
  6. 6. Two Distinct Modes of Cognitive Processing (continued) Click to edit Master title style2. Automatic: • Develops over time from practicing specific tasks • • Click to transition from learning to drive a car to expert Example: edit Master text styles driving • Second level • • Third level Fast, efficient • • Fourth level Requires little mental effort • • Fifth level and reliable Normally robust (but with some pitfalls)Crucial point: Aging affects executive processing andautomatic processing differently 6
  7. 7. Piloting Combines Diverse Tasks Click to edit Master title styleTasks have differing combinations of skill, knowledge, and thinkingStick and rudder skills, with practice, become largely automatic• Click to edit Master text stylesExecutive mode required for• Second level situations, dealing with emergencies, problem- • Managing unfamiliar• Third level heavy workload solving, juggling• Fourth level between the two modesDecision-making lies • Fairly automatic when dealing with familiar situations• Fifth level • Requires executive mode for unfamiliar situationsGood news: Automatic processing is fairly resilient to aging • Stick and rudder skills can remain high with consistent practice 7
  8. 8. Not So Good News Click to edit Master title styleExecutive processing inevitably declines with age • •Click to edit Master text styles Information processing speed slows down • Rate of learning new information slows down • Second level • Multi-tasking ability, reasoning, problem-solving, recall of • learned information all decline Third level • Fourth levelAn older pilot may perform superbly on BFR but be at risk • Fifth level • In seldom- practiced situations and under high workload 8
  9. 9. Substantial Variability in Rate of Decline Among Individuals Click to edit Master title style Consequently, differences among population of older pilots larger than among populations of younger pilots •with comparable experience styles Click to edit Master text •Makes it hard to come up with one-size-fits-all rules for Second level •pilot retirement Third level • Fourth level Rate of cognitive decline affected by genes, health, •exercise,level mental activities, and social engagement Fifth diet, • Can control some but not all of these factors • Can help keep ourselves in the cockpit longer 9
  10. 10. Older Pilots Are Especially Vulnerable Click to edit Master title styleIn situations that combine unfamiliar aspects, high workload,time pressure, and high consequence of errors • Extreme• Click to example: single-pilot operation in a night IFR edit Master text styles approach in unfamiliar, complex airspace• Second level • Less extreme examples with these aspects• Third level• Fourth level moreLack of currency isproblematic for older pilots• Fifthwe acquire/because levelre-acquire informationmore slowly 10
  11. 11. Some Good News Click to edit Master title style Acquired knowledge and skills can grow throughout the lifespan (though not as fast)• • Knowledge Master text styles Click to edit for domain-specific facts, such as weather behavior• Second level mastering a new airplane • Skills such as• Third level• Fourth level shine at judgment and decision-making Older pilots can • First-hand experience with broad range of situations• Fifth level • Less impetuous (one hopes) 11
  12. 12. Really Good News Click to edit Master title styleAcquired knowledge and skill can partly compensate fordeclining executive abilities • Click to edit Master text styles • Less experienced pilots must use executive processing for unfamiliar situations • Second level • •Third experienced pilots can recognize situations and devise Highly level response from previous encounters • Fourth level • Experience frees up limited executive resources • Fifth level • Experience provides strategies for avoiding overwhelming situations 12
  13. 13. Bottom Line Click to edit Master title style Trade-off between benefits of experience and age-driven decline• • Limits to trade-off: Eventually reach point Click to edit Master text styles of impaired performance• Second point differs for every individual pilot • This level• Third level• Fourthperformance cannot be measured on a single Piloting level dimension• FifthMany aspects • level • Older pilots may perform better on some aspects and worse on others 13
  14. 14. What’s an Old Geezer Pilot Like Me to Do??? Click to edit Master title style1) Exercise, exercise, exercise………….2) Healthy diet3) Work with your physician to stay on top of medical problems • Click to edit Master text styles4) Continuously self-evaluate performance in routine and challenging situations • Second current5) Stay extremely level6) •Reduce exposure to high-workload, time-pressured situations Third level7) Gradually reduce the complexity of type of flying • Fourth level8) Cultivate a deliberate, systematic approach – never, ever rush • Fifth level9) Get training for new skills to keep the brain active10) Use checklists religiously11) Tell passengers about “sterile cockpit”12) Enlist a buddy as a safety pilot 14
  15. 15. How Do I Know When It’s Time to Stop Flying Solo? Click to edit Master title style• No simple answer• Considerto edit Master text styles• Click keeping a self-appraisal log — Track getting• Second level behind the airplane, getting confused, not noticing or forgetting to do things, minor incidents• Third level — Track the good stuff, too• Fourth level• Fly with a CFI more than every two years• Fifth level — Go far beyond vanilla BFR• Has it stopped being fun? 15
  16. 16. More Information Click to edit Master title style• Click to edit Master text styles• Second level• Third level Dismukes, Berman, & Loukopoulos (2007). The Limits of Expertise: Rethinking Pilot Error and the Causes of Airline Accidents. Ashgate Publishing.• Fourth level Loukopoulos, Dismukes, & Barshi (2009). The Myth of Multitasking: Managing• Fifth level Complexity in Real-World Operations. Ashgate Publishing. Taylor, Kennedy, Noda, & Yesavage (2007). Pilot age and expertise predict flight simulator performance. Neurology, 68, 648-654. Tsang (2003). Assessing cognitive aging in piloting. In (Tsang & Vidulich, Eds) Principles and Practice of Aviation Psychology Erlbaum: Mahwah, NJ. 16