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Dr. Bill Rhodes: Warning Signs In Pilots


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Safety is not a matter isolated incidents but attitudes, behaviors and personality traits. Certain known clusters of behaviors coalesce into personalities that scare experts (and lead to accidents)

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Dr. Bill Rhodes: Warning Signs In Pilots

  1. 1. WARNING SIGNS IN PILOTS What Scares the Experts Some Initial Findings from AERI Bill Rhodes Copyright, Aerworthy Consulting, LLC September 2009
  2. 2. Airmanship Education and Research Initiative (AERI) AERI’s Sponsors  Avemco Insurance Company  Cirrus Aircraft Corporation  Advanced Aviation Simulators, Inc.  Independence Aviation, LLC.  Research Boston Corp.  University of Minnesota, Minneapolis  University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  3. 3. An Informal Survey ■ … of a group of aviation enthusiasts ■ Facts ■ Predictions
  4. 4. What is scary?
  5. 5. A Telling Tale ■ I began asking around about what scares experts ■ Patterns emerged (we’ll see some soon) ■ Then, eerily, some individuals I knew emerged ■ Even more eerily…
  6. 6. The Experts: Hands-on Experience ■ Mature, highly experienced (OK, mostly old) pilots ■ Insurance—Underwriters and Claims ■ Experienced CFI’s ■ Accident Investigators
  7. 7. Expert Pilots--Observed ■ Experimental Design (Partial) - Simulator work - Confidence-inspiring reactions ■ Results - More patterns - Positive reactions ■ Limitations: Sample size
  8. 8. What to do… or Who to be? ■ Doing is important - Industry teaches what to do - Often, pilots know what to do, and fail to do it ■ The sort of person one is matters a lot - Common knowledge among GA insiders ■ But… - Little or no theory of airmanship - No convenient language ■ Working these issues…
  9. 9. So, What Scares Experts?
  10. 10. HTS1: Take risks ■ But doesn’t flying always involve risk? ■ A question of calibration ■ Risk-management ■ Self-Assessment
  11. 11. HTS2: Know it all ■ Resist advice and instruction - Hurry through instruction - Don’t study; don’t listen - Blame airplane, sim, instructor ■ Brag a lot - Status Consciousness - If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard “pilot” and “ego” in the same sentence …
  12. 12. HTS3: Plan on the unrealistic/barely realistic ■ Lack of awareness of risk ■ Full (or beyond) exploitation of airplane’s capabilities ■ Full (or beyond) exploitation of own capabilities
  13. 13. HTS4: Be in a hurry ■ Gotta get moving ■ Gotta get there ■ Gotta speed through training ■ Got no time for the real business of flying
  14. 14. HTS5: Be extremely confident in piloting skills ■ We need confidence, of course… ■ The trick seems to be in knowing how confident to be ■ And in being realistic about ourselves and what we attempt
  15. 15. HTS6: Advance very quickly ■ Upgrade quickly to high-performance equipment ■ Race through instruction/ratings
  16. 16. HTS7: Show off ■ Pilots and their airplanes really are doing something remarkable ■ “Pushing it”
  17. 17. HTS8: Ignore the Book(s) and the Mentors ■ Performance ■ Avionics and Accessories ■ Weather ■ Human factors
  18. 18. “Scary Pilot” Syndrome ■ Lack of Skills? No! ■ Lack of Humility? YES! ■ CFI’s can easily work to develop skills ■ But a scary character is a challenge
  19. 19. So…Who should a pilot try to be? ■ Well, not scary! ■ What are the qualities we trust? ■ Not sure yet, but looks like: - Self-Knowledge - Self-Mastery - Caring about what’s really important - Giving aviation the time and devotion it (and families) deserve