Pilot Behaviors in the Face of Adverse Weather: A New Look at an Old Problem

Weather-related general aviation accidents are still one of the most significant causes for concern in aviation safety. This article reports on a study that explored the different behaviors that pilots exhibit in the face of adverse weather and their associated decision-making processes. The authors compared three weather-related behaviors that reflect different levels of risk: visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions (VFR into IMC); precautionary landing; and other significant weather avoidance actions. Occurrences (n = 491) were drawn from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau database and included weather-related accidents, incidents, and normal operations. There were few significant differences between the three behavior groups in terms of pilot demographics, aircraft characteristics, geographic or environmental factors, or absolute flight distances. The pattern of relative flight distances (a psychological construct) was markedly different for the three groups, with pilots in the weather avoidance group being distinguished by taking timely action. The authors conclude that the relative distance results suggest that the midpoint of the flight can be a psychological turning point for pilots, irrespective of the absolute flight distance involved. They discuss the psychological factors of the continuing evolving process of dealing with adverse weather, including the concept of 'mindfulness.'

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Batt, Richard
    • O'Hare, David
  • Publication Date: 2005-6


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01010556
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 18 2005 7:01AM