May 2001 Issue

To Err is Human

And also a grim sport many pilots play. Why conservative decisions have their place in the cockpit

For years Iíve taught seminars on preventing human error to airline pilots, military pilots, fire fighters, bomb squads, search and rescue teams, smokejumpers and other teams involved in high risk activities.

One of the major portions of this seminar looks at decision-making, including some of the weaknesses and pitfalls of many peopl experience. Although the exact number may vary, depending on which study you quote, pilot decision-making is generally faulted in 85 percent of all aviation accidents.

At scientific conferences, academics and accident investigators hammer on pilots for faulty decision-making that lead to an accident. Iíve often sat there quietly squirming because Iíve...

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