Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 27(71)
Рубрика журнала: Психология
MINDFULNESS TRAINING REQUIRED FOR CIVIL AVIATION PILOTS
Pilot mental readiness training, founded upon cognitive readiness concept, can be defined as specific kind of preparation which is based on appropriate skills, knowledge, abilities, motivations, and pilots need to establish and sustain competent performance in the complex and unpredictable environment of modern operations. It is of special relevance and significance for pilots who must adapt quickly to rapidly emerging, unforeseen mission and environmental changes and challenges. The goal of pilot mental readiness training is to develop additional cognitive-emotional capabilities needed to meet the unexpected, unforeseen changes and challenges that inevitably arise in today’s uncertain operational environment and which can contribute substantially to the success of modern operations. Such mental readiness is a first of all new cognitive capability and potential which can be trained and measured to an appropriate level. .
The first studies on the effects of stress on cognition began after the WWII based on observations that pilots who were highly skilled during peacetime often crashed their planes in the stress of battle due to mental errors. Stress and strong emotions in critical flight situations affect the responses in the central and peripheral nervous system related to the pilot's arousal, and consequently may impair performance of difficult highly cognitive pilots' mission-related tasks. Extensive information regarding these relationships between stress, arousal, cognition and performance, as well as measurement of stress from physiology, self-report or behaviour, can be found in reviews such as [2; 3].
Demanding pilot missions in highly stressful operational environment and under the intense psychological pressure are main reason for increase of flight accidents due to human’s errors.
Pilot’s mental readiness training, i.e. more rational and effective pilot thinking and acting in uncertain and dynamically changing flight conditions, is extremely important. Mental readiness training is the key for pilot’s effective operational situational awareness and right actions when many uncertainties, threats and obstacles can prevent them in execution of their tasks and missions.
It appears that 80% of air crashes happen due to human error. This means that when something unexpected and startling happens within a cockpit pilots are unable to execute their skills and knowledge because of high psychological stress.
Its necessary to create a mental training course, specifically designed for airline pilots, that really educates and prepares them on how to manage stress in their high risk environment.
When pilots are struggling with performance, all that is available is that they're sent to additional simulator training, to practice their technical skills. But, like with physical fitness, we need to invest time and energy into mental fitness. Pilots should train their brains that when something unexpected happens within their performance context, they'll be ready to react.
A mental training system as such does not yet exist in aviation.
Luckily, such program has already been created for another sphere of human activity – sport . And people were successfully using this system for a very long time. Sport mental training is a more specific term used to describe the mental techniques necessary for consistent high performance. Mental training for athletes often includes goal setting, visualization, mental imagery, self-talk retraining, mind control training, emotion control and in general, ways to establish true ideal thoughts, images and emotions to enhance sports performance.
All that was left to do is to borrow this system  and adapt it for aviation environment. That’s what we did. We distinguished five most significant aspects of this program:
1. Self-Awareness improvement: Pilot should be aware of his weaknesses so he could work on them. And it crucial to learn how to pay attention to your thoughts, breathing, body and surrounding environment. And then you will be able to take control over the stress response, instead of stress taking control of you.
It is important to identify situations that you find difficult to deal with. For example it could be certain mistakes or multiple mistakes, poor performance, mind blocks, freezes, hitches and anything that can be harmful for flight. Once you have done this the next step is to make plans to commit to when these happen in the future. These should include thoughts, strategies for body reactions, behaviors, and a mental pattern.
The last step is to practice your new mental pattern, first in training and then in real flight. At first it may be a challenge to change your natural way of thinking and behaving for situations but like any new skill with practice it will become automatic.
2. Resilience: This component is about development of a refocusing routine that pilot can use to bounce back quickly from mistakes and focus on the present. And the more you train your brain, the more it rewires itself in a way so that when you experience stressors and challenges in the future, it automatically triggers a more resilient response to stress.
3. Confidence Increase: Ability to keep believing that you can perform well should not be underestimated. This aspect relies on your past successes and failures. Success is a manual on how to deal with tough situations and be able to perform at your best. Success begins through believing in what you can do. Failure is a chance to learn from your mistakes so you could make sure that it will not happen next time. But mostly confidence is built by pilot’s skills and knowledge.
4. Tough Thinking: To be mentally tough you need to have a strong mind. Having a strong mind means mastering your self-talk and choosing what thoughts you use. Ability to recognize when you are using negative or unhelpful thinking and use techniques is vital to stop or change your thoughts. It is also necessary to be able to replace thoughts with positive or helpful thinking.
5. Under Pressure Performance: To be mentally strong, pilot needs to be able to perform under pressure and show his best no matter what challenge comes next. To stay composed and produce in the big moments develop focus points on how to act well.
By training pilots to be more mentally prepared, we're minimizing the human error and the potential of accidents in aviation happening.
- Morrison, J. E. & Fletcher, J. D. (2002). Cognitive Readiness Institute for Defence Analyses, Alexandria, VA.
- Bourne, L. E. & Yaroush, R. A. (2003). Stress and cognition: a cognitive psychological perspective National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
- Kavanagh, J. (2005). Stress and performance: a review of the literature and its applicability to the military. RAND Corporation.
- Powerful exercises to improve mental toughness., URL: https://www.mentalmuscletraining.com/single-post/2016/04/10/5-