Articles

The need for speed? How slowness has a value all of its own.

Human exploits in aviation have always been closely linked to our fascination for speed. We admire speed in its many guises and it remains a marker of achievement in almost any field you care to think of. In aviation, just as in many other walks of life, we often assume the faster the better. We associate speed with competence. But what if we could disassociate the idea of slowness with incompetence? What if instructors were made to teach the opposite? What if we came to associate a slow response with higher skill levels and greater professionalism?

Developing resilience to startle and surprise in helicopter operations

Also published in AirMed&Rescue April 2022 edition. https://www.airmedandrescue.com/latest/long-read/developing-resilience-helicopter-operations

What should startle and surprise training mean in an applied sense and how should we be approaching it? Do the differences between airline transport flight profiles and helicopter operations mean that we should be looking critically at how to approach the startle and surprise from a rotary wing perspective? Is it as significant a hazard in the low level, high workload, high obstacle environment in which helicopter crews spend much of their time?

The automation explosion: examining the human factor fallout

Also published in AirMed&Rescue, Nov 2021 edition.

Automation reduces workload, frees attentional resources to focus on other tasks, and is capable of flying the aircraft more accurately than any of us. It is simultaneously a terrible master that exposes many human limitations and appeals to many human weaknesses. As we have bid to reduce crew workload across many different tasks and increase situational awareness with tools including GPS navigation on moving maps, synthetic terrain displays, and ground proximity warning systems, we have also opened a Pandora’s Box of human factors to bring us back down to the ground with a bump. Sometimes literally.

Distributed Situation Awareness

Pretty much everyone in aviation is familiar with the concept of situation awareness. But as research interest in SA grew, the concept expanded from the individual level to how SA might apply in the context of larger and more complex systems. What does distributed SA actually mean? The idea is that SA is held by both human and non-human agents. Myriad technological artefacts within a system also hold some form of SA. Now if, like me, you initially struggle with the idea that an artefact (such as a radio, or altimeter) can have ‘awareness’, then bear with me…

Processing information in flight: Understanding the limits of cognitive capacity in the cockpit.

Hands up if you have ever experienced a mental meltdown, ‘cognitive freeze’, or intense tunnel vision in flight or in training? Most of us will recognise these phenomena happening to us at some point or other. They are intimately related to levels of workload, stress, or perhaps the surprise and startle effect. In CRM trainingContinue reading “Processing information in flight: Understanding the limits of cognitive capacity in the cockpit.”

ARE YOU A SPECIALIST AVIATOR? WHY DEVELOPING RANGE IS PART OF YOUR JOB.

Most of us will recognise amongst our colleagues that figure who has an unmatched knowledge of their aircraft and operational procedures but isn’t a natural team player, doesn’t share thought processes much, and just perhaps doesn’t quite integrate with the rest of his/her colleagues as comfortably as others. We admire technical knowledge in aviation, butContinue reading “ARE YOU A SPECIALIST AVIATOR? WHY DEVELOPING RANGE IS PART OF YOUR JOB.”

Helicopter Hoisting and the Human in the system:

Applying the 3Hs to decision-making during helicopter hoist operations. On the 29 April 2020 at Biscarosse near Bordeaux in France, two crew members of a French Air Force H225 fell to their deaths when a hoist cable parted during a winch training exercise. (Summary report in English from Aerossurance.) The tragic outcome coupled with theContinue reading “Helicopter Hoisting and the Human in the system:”

On Lookout and helicopters

The importance of an effective lookout. We’ve heard it from day one in aviation, a constant through our flying training days and beyond. The dangers of mid-air collision, obstacles, and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) will always be there.  These are not static threats however, but are always evolving. Take the proliferation of drones asContinue reading “On Lookout and helicopters”

Developing Competency in Problem-Solving and Decision Making: The importance of Process vs Outcome.

Separating the quality of a decision from the quality of the processes which lead to a decision being made sounds like it should be straight-forward, but it isn’t. This is especially true if we judge a decision to be a bad one, or a wrong one, when our negative perception of the choice can easily overwhelm what could have been a perfectly acceptable, collaborative, and well-communicated thought process.

The distinction between the quality of the decision-making process and the decision itself is an important one to make in the context of training for competency because although we won’t always make the right, or the best, decisions in any given situation, the ability to develop and improve our decision-making processes, is what competency-based training is all about.

Competency based training. By trying to solve one training problem are we creating another?

At the beginning of this month I tuned in to the Royal Aeronautical Society’s webinar titled, Flight Crew Competence; Assessing what and how? The webinar aimed to address the concept of Evidence Based Training and Competency Based Training (EBT/CBT) and consider the impact it has had on the experience of instructors, examiners and trainees. TheContinue reading “Competency based training. By trying to solve one training problem are we creating another?”

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