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PILOT STRESS: Factors Affecting Performance

PILOT STRESS: Factors Affecting Performance. Dr. Jim Giordano, AGI, IGI Aviation Safety Counselor 409-895-8947. STRESS. Environmental challenges that induce a non-specific set of neurologic and hormonal responses: Increased cardiac output Increased respiration

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PILOT STRESS: Factors Affecting Performance

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  1. PILOT STRESS:Factors Affecting Performance Dr. Jim Giordano, AGI, IGI Aviation Safety Counselor 409-895-8947

  2. STRESS • Environmental challenges that induce a non-specific set of neurologic and hormonal responses: • Increased cardiac output • Increased respiration • Sympathetic nervous system arousal • Redistribution of bloodflow

  3. STRESSOR • Any environmental change, novelty and/or instability that eludes control • Change in the ability to exert control • Can be inherently unpleasant (distressor) • Can be inherently pleasant (eustressor)

  4. STRESS DIATHESIS • A condition of increased biological susceptibility to stresses that can lead to increased reactivity to various stressors • Each individual has distinct diatheses • Some are biologically determined • Some are environmentally conditioned • Some are interactive

  5. STRESS RESPONSE:General Adaptation Syndrome • Three-stage response of hierarchical biological systems: • 1. Alarm Stage: immediate, short-term • 2. Resistance Stage: mobilization against • threat • 3. Exhaustion Stage: biological fatigue

  6. 8 Types of Stress Factors • Conscious Factors: thought, judgement, decision making • Unconscious Factors: past influences, memories • Personality Factors: character and temperament • Psychological Factors: emotional condition • Physiologic Factors: biological influences/condition • Environmental Factors: noise, comfort, ergonomics • Experiential Factors: situational influences • Sociocultural Factors: family, finances, life-changes

  7. 8 Interactive Stress Variables • Intensity: magnitude (low vs high) • quality: insignificant vs significant • Duration/frequency: short vs long; high/low • Focus of Stressor: vulnerability (high vs low) • Extent of Stress: scope of influence (isolated vs extensive) • Mental/Physical Status: hardiness (high vs low) • Resistance: active vs inactive • Perception: reductive vs magnifying

  8. Identified Pilot Stressors • Flying alone • Congested airspace/busy airports* • Emergencies • Night flying • Check rides • Flying over water • Getting lost/landing at wrong airport • Losing medical certificate/grounding • Violating FARs/grounding* • Miscomprehension of ATC* • Making a fool of oneself • Crashing/midair collision*

  9. Stressful Aspects of Flight • 1. Approach/landing (Demand = Stress) • 2. Takeoff (Demand > Stress) • 3. Cruise (Demand > Stress) • 4. Taxi (Demand > Stress)

  10. Stress, Performance & Error • Under low perceived stress: • Boredom/complacency may be high • Performance = low, with high potential for poor judgement • Under high perceived stress: • Performance degrades due to decreased skill • and/or diminished endurance • Poor judgement and error potential increase

  11. “Ideal” Stress Level • “Stress Comfort Zone”: environment in which eustressors outnumber distressors to increase arousal within response limits, while generating peak performance • Low boredom factor • Low potential for poor judgement • Low potential for error

  12. Stress-coping Patterns/Behaviors • Denial: Ostrich effect “This isn’t happening to me” • Suppression: “I’m OK…I’ll be fine” • Humor: “Pagliacci effect” • Projection: “I’m OK, you’re the one who’s stressed out!” • Intellectualization: “Let’s examine the data…”* • Rationalization: “What are some options here…”* • Decompensation: Pass the Xanax and could I wash it down with some gin, please?

  13. Overcoming Stress • It’s not the stressor, it’s your reaction to it! • Every stress Activates a particular set of Beliefs that drive your Cognitions to evoke Consequences. (A - B - C) • Access the ABCs of any stressor you encounter • Dispute your irrational Beliefs to generate new Expectations and Feelings (D - E - F)

  14. Preparation is the Key • Through preparation, you can gain knowledge to rationally dispute beliefs that lead to inadequate behavioral consequences • Such preparatory safety is not a fable…remember • AESOP • Aircraft factors • Environmental factors • Situational factors • Options • Personnel factors

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