In response to recent high-profile commercial airline accidents, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is developing a training program, hoping to better prepare pilots to handle loss-of-control-in-flight (LOC-I) scenarios. LOC-I incidents are responsible for the vast majority of commercial aviation fatalities and crashes since most pilots do not get the necessary training to recover the flight and regain control of the aircraft in the event of stalling and other malfunctioning. The ICAO’s upcoming Manual of Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training is expected to be a huge step towards preventing LOC-I related crashes.
The manual takes detailed measure to explain what systems are affected during an aerodynamic stall, what systems a pilot retains control of, and how pilots can utilize specific tactics and airplane functions to recover the flight. While the education element is highly important, it is not the only hurdle to averting disaster. Research is attempting to monitor what is called “brain stall”, a symptom of startle which can afflict pilots in the event that unforeseen circumstances arise during flight. Like shock, the body’s innate reaction to trauma, startle can stun a pilot’s ability to cognitively process and handle the escalating situation. During recent Federal Aviation Administration tests only a quarter of pilots who were taught the recovery tactics were able to recall and implement those maneuvers during a simulated emergency LOC-I event. The majority fought against aviation mechanics, exacerbating the complications of the scenario and ultimately leading to fatal crashes.
The aerospace industry is stepping up to increase training in hopes of reducing “brain stall” and preventing LOC-I related incidents. They believe that more rigorous training and preparation could be the best way to keep pilots confident and cognitive, thus reducing the exposure to safety liabilities.
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