The decision-making in Aviation

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Making decisions is one of the most crucial aspects of any career. These talents must be honed in order for people in many professions to flourish at their jobs. These choices must be wise and made at the appropriate moment (Janis et al., 1977). Since any action taken might result in life or death, piloting, like other professions, has to include this crucial procedure as part of their careers. Any pilot should be able to act quickly and wisely when the situation calls for it, especially in an emergency. This essay critically reviews how a pilot can improve their capacity to make a decision and provides examples in the aviation industry on how poor weather can lead to better comprehension of decision making in the airline's sector.

A pilot’s decision-making ability based on life and death is similar to that of a surgeon. The main difference between the two careers is that a surgeon deals with a single life at the moment whereas the pilot deals with many lives at a particular time (Zeleny et al., 1977). The challenges a pilot face while flying are vast, such as foggy nights and operating during the winter decisions. The decision-making ability is comparable to that of a firefighter who warns his or her crew members to evacuate a building and suddenly there after the building collapses. In this case, extrasensory perception (ESP) is a critical factor in the decision-making process which can also be replicated by pilots. They should critically observe and identify the risks they are facing, hence resulting in earlier cautious actions.

The Power of Intuition

This is an important part of the decision-making process and is always referred as “singular evaluation approach,” where the decision is made quickly as possible. Instead of deliberating over many options it is wise for the experienced person to come up with an immediate action (Zsambok, 2014).The first thing that appears in mind should be implemented and the only criticism it is whether it will work.

This decision-making criterion is always used by pilots not only during emergencies but also in their day to day activities. A pilot with experience when taking of a larger airplane, he or she can assess the performance of the aircraft and have knowledge on whether it can turn left or right. This action requires no deliberation. On taking off, if the airplane jumps off the runway and the primary hypothesis proves false, the pilot can again quickly acknowledge wake turbulence will be an issue and the departure must be postponed. In this case, the pilot is reliant on his knowledge and experience to undertake a course of action instead of deliberating over many measures. Intuition enables individuals to skip the conventional decision-making process to the single evaluation approach. Intuition emerges as a result of experience, and the pilot can recognize certain effects quickly without comprehending on he or she can recognize it.

Three Stages to Enhance Intuition

Pilots need to have intuition when it comes to flying and emergencies. Since the firefighters and pilots need to have intuition in decision making, much experience is required to improve this ability. The following are steps assist in developing an excellent intuitive ability.

(1) Decide. The most common way of enhancing decision making is encompassing making a decision as part and parcel of an individual’s life. This was common when the aircraft engine could fail with no particular reason, and the pilot needed to cooperate with the crew to make decisions (O'Hare et al., 1995).

(2) Self-critique. Any decision made needs some criticism; an individual should include some emotional component in the decision he or she has made. The emotional part will make implementation of the decision much easier and accurate, whether the individual made the decision or it was made by someone else.

(3) Widening the experience in the profession. It is quite better to learn from other person’s mistake than getting into trouble by negligence. This experience, as pilots, is possible through reading publications or watching videos with relevant content such as Aircraft Investigation report series (Benner, 1975). These aircraft investigation reports should be read and analyzed in a comprehensive manner. The pilot should investigate the reason behind any decision and put herself in the shoes. This benefit of the doubt will enable a pilot to come up with appropriate solutions under similar circumstances. Emotional connection with these events can instill the urge to avoid such mishaps to any pilot in the field.

Case study

On December 28, 2014, a team was deployed to search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 stream with sonar trust they have found it on the sea floor off Borneo, in spite of the fact that the CEO of the aircraft says there is no affirmation the wreckage has been found. AirAsia Flight QZ8501 took off very early in the morning of Dec. 28 from the Indonesian city of Surabaya, on the way to Singapore with 162 travelers and aircraft team on board. However, the Airbus A320-200 vanished from radar 42 minutes after its departure, in the midst of reports of stormy climate and with no misery call being issued. AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was traveling from Surabaya via Indonesia then to Singapore on Sunday morning when it vanished from radar over the Java Sea. It took off at 5:35 a.m. neighborhood time on Sunday (5:35 p.m. ET Saturday) from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, a city in eastern Java, for a two-hour flight northwest to Changi Airport in Singapore. The flight way would have taken the plane over the moderately shallow Java Sea between the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Pictures of drifting bodies were communicating on TV and relatives of the missing came at an emergency fixate in Surabaya on Tuesday. Around 30 boats and 21 airplanes from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States had been included in the inquiry of up to 10,000 square nautical miles (34,299 square kilometers).The airspace was thick with stormy mists. One of the jet pilots made a request to fly higher to maintain a strategic distance from the poor weather conditions. The last correspondence from the cockpit was the pilot's demand to expand height from 9,754 meters to 11,582 meters.

An Indonesian marine policeman checks his surroundings from his search and rescue aircraft as he and his team individuals set up a search operation for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 at Pangkal Pinang port in Sumatra on Monday. (Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press).Airspace control was not ready to quickly give the demand of the pilot in light of the fact that another plane was in the airspace, said Bambang Tjahjono, chief of the state-claimed organization accountable for air movement control. By the time leeway could be given, Flight 8501 had vanished, Tjahjono said. The plane's pilot, who passes by the single name of Iryanto, had experienced more than 20,000 flying hours. More than 6,000 of them are with AirAsia, as indicated by reports. Family, neighbors, and companions say Bryant is an accomplished flying Corps pilot who flew F-16 warrior streams before he swung to business flying, the Daily Telegraph reported (Jin et al., 2011).

Airbus depicts the A320 jetliner gather as "the world's top rated single-passageway airship family." The planes are thought to be workhorse airship for short-haul flights. An AirAsia A320-200 plane takes off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia (Joshua Paul/Associated Press). AirAsia has been the biggest business carrier client of the A320, requesting 184 planes and taking a conveyance of 157, CNN reported. Airbus says the flying machine utilized for Flight QZ8501 on Dec. 28 was conveyed to Air Asia in October 2008 and has 23,000 flight hours logged amid 13,600 flights. Air Asia said the flying machine had its keep going booked upkeep on Nov. 16.The A320 has likewise stood out as truly newsworthy in North America — that was the plane pilot Chesley Sullen Berger guided to a safer landing on the Hudson River in New York City in 2009.The Air Asia vanishing comes nine months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane with 239 travelers and team on load up has not been found. Four months after the fact, another Malaysia Airlines fly, flight MH17, and was shot down over Ukraine. Every one of the 298 individuals on board was killed.


As we can see the pilot did not use the power of intuition to make his decision while flying. If he could take the immediate action by assuming all the risks as a result of going to a higher height, the passengers’ lives could be saved. This instance illustrates how decision-making ability is a critical part of the piloting profession (Helmreich, 2001). Pilots need to undertake a critical decision-making process in their lives. This ability needs to improve with time due to more experience. The skill can be enhanced by the following strategies:

Decision-making training and Crew Resource Management training

Decision-making training is part and parcel of t crew resource management (CRM) training. CRM concentrates on how a crew can work, and decision making is one of the main factors that promotes team building. Decision making in CRM is critical is allowed since it is useful in error avoidance. By concentrating on decision-making principles, training the CRM t can offer flight crews with an enhanced theoretical knowledge in the subject and increase their comprehension. To be specific, it is crucial that professionals the aviation field understand that fruitful decision making does not usually encompass the choice of the best solution. In extreme situations, success is defined by the best choices to ensure safety or minimize risks (Cavka et al., 2012).

Decision- making aids

These aids are formulated to assist the decision maker to make accurate decisions. They are extremely useful in emergencies that require instant action. The “the five Ps,” a basic memory aid that can help in training: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. The five Ps insist that briefing and pre-planning merge to provide better comprehension by the crew of changes of plan, corrections, limits, required callouts and. These decision aids are developed by a clear understanding of human factors (Ramser et al., 1993). Experience in operation has proven that the most appropriate human decisions in environments which are involving in nature are not necessarily the ones expected. Most accidents associated with modern aircraft show that the intuitive action can also be problematic. Hence, the contents of decision aids require to be both “user-centered” and based on research.

To conclude, decision making in the aviation industry is one of the critical aspects of the profession. A decision can result in loss of lives or can save a lot of them at the same time. The decision-making ability is based on the amount of experience the decision maker has in his or her career. Intuition can be the best way of creating choices and instantly implementing them. Through the power of intuition, most accidents in the aviation industry can be avoided and this will lead to minimal loss of life due to aircraft in future. However, the decision maker, in this case, should be well-experienced and have adequate knowledge decision-making training in the aviation industry.


Benner, L. (1975). Accident investigations: Multilinear Events sequencing methods. Journal of safety research, 7(2), 67-73.

Cavka, I., & Cokorilo, O. (2012). COST-BENEFIT ASSESSMENT OF AIRCRAFT SAFETY. International Journal of Traffic & Transport Engineering, 2(4).

Helmreich, R. L. (2000). On error management: lessons from aviation. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 320(7237), 781.

Janis, I. L., & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. Free press.

Jin, H., Du, H., & Feng, L. (2011). Analysis of A320/319/321 and B737NG Aircraft Pilot Operation Procedure Based on Accidents/Incidents. In ITIS 2011: Multimodal Approach to Sustained Transportation System Development: Information, Technology, Implementation (pp. 2062-2069).

O'Hare, D., & Smitheram, T. (1995). 'Pressing On'Into Deteriorating Conditions: An Application of Behavioral Decision Theory to Pilot Decision Making. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 5(4), 351-370.

O'Hare, D., & Smitheram, T. (1995). 'Pressing On'Into Deteriorating Conditions: An Application of Behavioral Decision Theory to Pilot Decision Making. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 5(4), 351-370.

Ramser, P. (1993). Review of Decision Making in Action: Models and Methods. American Psychological Association.

Zeleny, M., & Cochrane, J. L. (1973). Multiple criteria decision making. University of South Carolina Press.

Zsambok, C. E., & Klein, G. (2014). Naturalistic decision making. Psychology Press.

April 13, 2023




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