Aeronautical Decision Making

The aviation experts at Robson Forensic provide critical examination and analysis into the many factors that influence pilot decision making. The Aviation Practice Group at Robson Forensic includes Certified Flight Instructors, Airline Transport Pilots, and Air Traffic Control professionals.

Pilot decision making

“Pilot Error” is a widely used (often overused) term describing pilot actions leading to an aircraft crash. The term offers little detail about the aspects of the error(s).

The actual error/ act committed or omitted by the pilot is commonly the “tip of the iceberg” of causes that led to an aircraft accident. The task of an aviation safety expert is to determine why the pilot made the error. The reasons usually extend well beyond the pilot and may include conditions set in place years prior, failure of supervision/instruction, and organizational influence.

There are two frequent causes of aviation accidents; fuel starvation and continued visual flight (VFR) into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) by a non-qualified aviator. Both are usually results of a poor decision making process set in motion well before the aircraft left the ground. Reoccurring explanations as to why these decisions are made include perceived pressure, overconfidence, and complacency.

Describing an aviation accident simply as “Pilot Error” is not sufficient. Discovering what leads to the poor decisions requires critical examination and analysis.


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