THE RELATIONSHIP OF DECISION-MAKING TO AVIATORS
Pilots are the professionally trained people who handle all the operations of an aircraft needed to secure a safe and sound flight for the passengers. Their duties start when the plane is on the ground/before flight, while airborne or in-flight, and on landing and getting off the plane. To make things as safe as one would like to see, pilots have to undergo certifications proving that they are mentally and physically fit. They are trained to be very effective decision makers as their actions and decisions can hamper the safety of all on board. In training, which pilots go through, institutions or regulatory bodies administering their training use models and modules supported by researchers. These are instilled with the skills regarding decision making for pilots. During real flight or simulator training, the skills taught are tested. Note that the simulator training is more reliable in the sense that the tests conducted can be done more than once whenever it is deemed appropriate. On the latter, the real world flying is more difficult to use when testing a pilot's decision making skills because one cannot exactly predict the what may eventuate. Such models that have been used involve the 'DECIDE' model. In simpler terms, models like this ensure that pilots have the ability to 'DO THE RIGHT AT THE RIGHT TIME'
In aviation the importance of making the correct decision in a timely manner is often paramount to safety. One Model that can help pilots, and also those not in the aviation industry, is to use the 'DECIDE' model. The 'DECIDE' model is closely linked with Crew Resource Management (CRM) and is familiar to many pilots. The acronym 'D.E.C.I.D.E' stands for (Robson, 2008, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, 2006):
D- Detect that the action necessary
E- Estimate the significance of the action
C- Choose a desirable outcome
I- Identify actions needed in order to achieve the chosen option
D- Do the necessary action to achieve change
E- Evaluate the effects of the action
The 'DECIDE' model promotes the skills that pilots should have acquired before flying as it will enable them to apply it when faced with the following situations;
This is being aware of the situation you are in and having an imagination of what could happen next. Being able to play out the possible scenarios which could eventuate in your present situation. Getting sensory ques from your environment and being alert to everything around you.
*Knowing your options:
When finding yourself in a situation, you should be able to tell what options you should take. In the case of pilots, they have very limited options but it is crucial that they think of as much options as they can think of. They then need to think more in depth about their options and prioritize them in order of importance and relevance. At this point of time, they should be able to predict what their options may lead to. Risk management is a great skill needed in this case since pilots are required to analyse how risky there actions can be.
As soon as the options are thought of in detail, the pilot has to make the toughest decision. This is the 'moment' and the pilot now has to decide from his options as to which the best course of action will help in delivering a positive outcome. Pilots will need to reason why that option is the best of why the others are not so.
If a decision is reached on what option to go with, pilots then turn to performing it in a timely manner. Remember that in an accident, which is often the case for most pilots who is faced with making tough decisions, it is very important that they act effectively so that you can maximize their potential of preventing the undesired consequences.
*Evaluating the performance:
Pilots usually forget about this last and very important step. It is considered a must to check how one has dealt with a situation and is also necessary to use paper references. This means recording your actions to see if the actions taken have been in accordance with the set rules and regulations. This allows the pilot to know if the action he/she has carried out was operationally correct and if there are/were further actions needed to be executed given that a complication is still present.
Diagram of Decision Making for PILOTS.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. (2006). Aeronautical Decision Making. Retrieved from http://download.aopa.org/epilot/2006/8083-25-chap16.pdf
Robson, D. (2008). Human Being Pilot: Human Factors for Aviation Professionals. Australia: Aviation Theory Centre.
Peterson, B. D. (2006). Doing the right thing: Decision Making for Pilots. In K. D. Murphy & J. Storm(Eds.), Safety Advisor: Operations and Proficiency No.11 (pp. 1-8). Frederick, MD: AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.aopa.org/asf/publications/sa24.pdf
Parry, D. L. (2012). Langley Flying School: student reading reference. Retrieved from: http://www.langleyflyingschool.com/Pages/Human%20Factor--Pilot%20Decision-making%20Process.html