The On Aeronautical Decision Making

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Pilots generally do not think about the model of decision-making they wish to follow when they are at the controls. They instead worry about key items that have a direct correlation to the safety of those onboard and the safety of the aircraft. In this article, O’Hare is concerned that a lot of effort has been put into educating and training pilots to make the right decision, but very little or none has been put towards aeronautical decision-making (ADM). This stems from the fact that as an aviation community we do not fully understand the ADM process, though we comprehend quite well the “prescriptive models of ADM” and can effectively train to them (O’Hare, 1992, p. 175). To explore this gap in knowledge O’Hare reviews multiple studies completed on ADM, as well as “examples of naturalistic decision-making in complex, dynamic environments” (O’Hare, 1992, p. 176). This method of decision-making resembles that of a pilot. The outside world and the cockpit display numerous challenges and sometimes have conflicting displays requiring challenging decisions. O’Hare’s overall goal is to provide a Framework Model that can serve as a foundation for “future research into ADM and a basis for further prescriptive efforts” (O’Hare, 1992, p. 176). To guide him through this O’Hare relied heavily on the research of Jensen and Benel who found that most fatal crashes are caused by decisions rather than perceptual or action errors (O’Hare, 1992, p. 175). Trained pilots have great ability to react to sensations they perceive, but have trouble making decisions in a dynamic environment where the answer may not be obvious. This can be further described using the three basic models of decision-making: normative, prescriptive, and descriptive (... ... middle of paper ... ...n a decision was required the Mimic system used its semi qualitative, nonnumeric method of reasoning to suggest actions to the pilot (O’Hare, 1992, p. 186). This is comparable to the AI decisions made by autopilots in today’s aircraft. Conclusion Human performance, especially in an aircraft, is a complex world. Though there are a lot of narrow range models available to explain the cognitive processes of a pilot, there is a lack of models that encompass the entire framework of decision-making and problem solving. There are multiple models that look at a pilots ability to recognize a problem and troubleshoot it, but there is not one that conceptualizes the entire problem solving practice. O’Hare’s framework model provides us understanding on how pilots make decisions and should then provide a more firm base for the development of future prescriptive models of ADM.

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