Situational Awareness in Aviation?
This can be simplified down into three key words:
1. Perception of elements in the current situation
2. Comprehension of current situation
3. Projection of future status
Factors Affecting Situational Awareness
Stress and Workload - Stress affects our ability to process information. If we are in a high stress/high workload situation, we will not be able to process as much information. This could significantly affect our situational awareness. It is very important to actively manage stress, whether it be short or long-term.
Automation - An individual needs to keep themselves active in monitoring automatic systems. For example, in an aircraft, just because you have put the aircraft on autopilot, does not mean you can sit back and read a newspaper. You need to keep actively monitoring the flight instruments and controls. Automation can also be used in high workload situations to prevent mental overload, by removing the need for the pilot to control the aircraft.
Physiological Factors - Factors such as illness and medication can have a drastic effect on information processing, and therefore on situational awareness. Pilots should use theIMSAFE model to monitor their health and well-being.
Preconceptions - Often when we have a a preconception about what is going to happen, we try and match information to this idea, insteed of seeing what is actually going on. If we do not have a full level of situational awareness, this can lead to carrying out incorrect, and potentially harmful actions. Some examples of this would be succumbing to avisual illusion, or not following an air traffic control clearance correctly.
Abilities/ Experience/ Training - If you have trained for a situation, you are more likely to execute the correct actions when it occurs in real life. Also if your training is current, it is more likely that this will be an automatic response. This is partly because you know what the situation looks like and can anticipate what is going to happen. This is why in flight training, we repeat exercises where a critical response is required, such as Stalling and Engine failures.
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