Based on the quality and quantity of comments from last week’s blog – in political parlance it looks like “the base was energized.” How opinions varied! As is typical of pilots, with any dozen you’ll get at least 24 strong observations. At the time I wrote this on Tuesday morning, the statistics shook out as follow:
- 71% thought ongoing education was the best solution and recognized that some losses were unavoidable.
- 14% thought judgment and decision-making could be effectively taught.
- 10% believed that staging an intervention would help.
- 6% thought technology could be beneficial
- 0% voted in the poll for more regs but a few of you made comments that additional enforcement might get a lot of attention.
My brilliant observation is that a mix of all of the above would likely yield the best results – probably in about the proportions shown above but your mileage could vary. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a plate glass window (I may have garbled that but you get the idea.) Expand the tool box and the results are better – a crow bar works about as well as a hammer on windows!
Does anyone know who has done any research on teaching judgment to humans, especially over the age of 20? The hard part is the follow up over the ensuing decades to see if it really resulted in a long-term behavioral change. According to one of my psychiatrist friends (Personal relationship – not professional!) our personalities and risk tolerances are largely set by age 14. By the time one enters the flight training system at age 16 or 45, according to my friend, our ability to influence is limited. Those that are careful and methodical, are and those that aren’t, are not. Is this absolute and can people older than 14 still learn? Of course, which is why 71% voted the way you did.
As we work on improving flight instruction, the whole business of teaching risk management is worthwhile. Explain and study the high risk areas. Communicate clearly and know that a few will ignore or forget the hard lessons that we discussed last week. Perhaps the biggest challenge is being realistic in our expectations and knowing how much time and treasure to put into attempting to reach the unreachable.
It’s a little surprising that technology didn’t score higher because there has been a marked decrease in fuel mismanagement accidents in new technology aircraft with flow transducers and ” idiot lights” that are independent of programming. When the light comes on ” Ya got about 5 gallons left in this tank – Jack! ” One of the biggest reductions in accidents in history was the invention of the nose wheel – ground loops largely disappeared. For the airlines, it was the advent of the jet engine.
We discussed the issue of aging pilots a couple of weeks ago in conjunction with the loss of the OSU women’s basketball head and assistant coaches in an accident involving a 82 year old pilot – probable cause has not been established. The Air Safety Institute now has a new online course for aging pilots so please invite all of your slightly “mature” aeronautical acquaintances to give it a peruse and let us know what you think.