The Effects of Scenario-Based Training (SBT) on Pilot's use of an Emergency Whole Plane Parachute



Light Plane Parachute (the ballistic recovery system [BRS]) has been developed for single-engine aircraft and is being used progressively in general aviation. The parachute take down the entire aircraft to the ground when utilised. The development of this presents the need for research to evaluate relevant methods for training pilots in how and when to use this device. The intention of this study was to examine using SBT to promote decision-making skills for the use of emergency parachute.


Based on relevant research, SBT is hypothesized to be a convincing method and predicted that the participants who were trained would have greater skills and knowledge using the emergency parachute than would the participants in the control condition.

H 1: Participants in the SBT condition will exhibit more effective use of the emergency parachute than will the participants in the control condition.

H 2:Participants in the SBT condition will exhibit more effective emergency related behaviours (i.e. using checklists) than will the participants in the control condition.

H 3: Participants in the SBT condition will achieve higher scores on a knowledge test regarding the emergency parachute than will the participants in the control situation.

H 4:Participants in the SBT condition will have significantly higher self-efficacy regarding use of the emergency parachute than will the individuals in the control group.


Participants in this study were 32 private instrument-rated pilots. The total flight time ranged from 100 to 400 hr, with an average of 199 hr (SD = 76), and the median number flight of hours was 165. Participants had an average age of 3.2 (SD=1.3) years of piloting experience. The mean age of all participants was 20.8 (SD=1.9) and none of them had experience using the BRS parachute.


Participants randomly divided into two conditions (16 participants in each condition). The pretest lasted about 20 min, which included 15 min for preflight planning and 5 min for the brief scenario. Next, participants received either SBT or the control conditioning training for the parachute. Participants returned the day after the following of their parachute training and performed the post-test simulated flights. During the performance test, they did not receive any instruction and were not given any feedback until it was finished. The self-efficacy questionnaire was then directed to pilots and followed by the BRS knowledge test.


Hypothesis 1: Use of the parachute

The first testing was a varied design multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The between factor was condition (training method) and the within factor was pretest vs post-test. Inspection of the MANOVA with use of the Wilks's criterion indicated that the main effect for condition on the dependent variables was not significant but the main effect for session (pre post) on the combined dependent variables was significant.
As shown in Table 2, the overall mean for the post-test BRS use was significantly higher than the mean for the pretest BRS use. With the use of Wilks' criterion, the combined dependent variables were affected significantly by the condition by session interaction.

Hypothesis Measure Pre Post
1 BRS use SBT 1.22(.71) 3.75(1.06)
Control 1.13(.50) 4.10(.95)
Total 1.31(.87) 3.40(1.07)
1 Controlled landing/BRS decision SBT 2.97(.78) 3.63(1.10)
Control 2.94(.85) 4.19(.48)
Total 3.00(.73) 3.06(1.21)
1&2 Overall performance SBT 2.72(.92) 3.43(.69)
Control 2.69(.87) 3.88(.46)
Total 2.75(1.00) 2.99(.60)

Means and Standard Deviations of Performance Data for Pretest and Post-test Measures

Hypothesis Dependent Variable Posttest Significance Level (Interpretation)
1 Looks for place to land Exp=89.29(21.29) P=.03 (Significant)
BRS timing Exp=4.32(.75) P≤.00 (Very highly significant)
BRS altitude Exp=4.69(.56) P=.01 (Highly significant)
Controlled Landing(delta score) Exp=1.25(1.03) P=.01 (Highly significant)
Overall performance(delta score) Exp=1.19(1.09) P=.02 (Significant)
BRS knots Exp=3.93(1.69) P=.18 (Highly significant)
2 Using checklists Exp=1.94(.91) P=.03 (Significant)
Declare emergency Exp=4.00(1.35) P≤.00 (Very highly significant)
Divert Exp=4.00(1.08) P=.04 (Significant)
3 Knowledge Test Exp=17.13(2.78) P=.51 (No significant)
4 Self-efficacy Exp=4.42(.23) P=.04 (Significant)

Means, Standard Errors, and Significance Levels of Posttest-Only Dependent Variables

The interaction of session, condition for "Controlled landing" and "Overall performance" was significant but significance did not appear for "BRS use". For each of the significant measures, post hoc comparisons indicated that although the group did not differ in the pretest, the SBT group performed better in the post-test than did the control group. In summary, the results of the first MANOVA supported Hypothesis 1 but not for deployment of the BRS.

Hypothesis 2: Emergency-Related Behaviors

The dependent variables relating to this hypothesis were included in the between-groups MANOVA. Follow up univariate tests demonstrated that the SBT group performed better in "Using checklists","Declare Emergency", and "Divert". Thus, Hypothesis 2 was supported.

Hypothesis 3 & 4:

The follow-up univariate tests revealed that the two groups did not differ significantly on the knowledge test and Hypothesis 3 was not supported. Hypothesis 4 was supported as the SBT group had higher self-efficacy than the control condition participants.

Study's scope

Pilots must know when and how to use the parachute to prevent unnecessary loss of lives or expensive equipment. The results showed that SBT helped the pilots learn to make the decisions that is needed for using the BRS more effectively than did the traditional, procedural method for training. The SBT approach also seems to have considerable prospective to build a pilot's personal database of skills.

1. Elizabeth L. Blickensderfera, Shayna Strallya & Shawn Doherty (2012) The Effects of Scenario-Based training on Pilot's use of an Emergency Whole Plane Parachute, The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 22:2, pages 184-202.

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