Aviation Personnel Selection and Training
David L. Pohlman J. D. Fletcher Institute for Defense Analyses
This chapter discusses the selection and training of people for work in aviation. This work encompasses a full spectrum of activity from operators of aircraft (i.e., pilots), to flight attendants, dispatchers, flight controllers, mechanics, engineers, baggage handlers, ticket agents, airport managers, and accountants. The topic covers a lot of territory. For manageability, we concentrate on three categories of aviation personnel: pilots and aircrew, maintenance support staff, and flight controllers.
Work load within most categories of aviation work has been increasing since aviation began. In the earliest days, aircraft were pushed to their limits and aviation operations were limited. Pilots flew the airplane from one place to another. Maintainers serviced the airframe and engine, both of which were adapted from relatively familiar, nonaviation technologies and materials. Flight controllers, if they were present at all, were found standing on the airfield waving red and green flags. Since those days, aviation operations have progressed. The aircraft is no longer a limiting factor. Pilots, maintainers, and controllers are all pushed to the edge of the human performance envelope by the aircraft they operate, maintain, and control. To give an idea of the work for which we are selecting and training people, it may help to discuss the work loads that different specialties impose on aviation personnel.
Control of aircraft in flight has been viewed as a challenge from the beginning of aviation--if not before. McRuer and Graham ( 1981) reported that in 1901 Wilbur Wright addressed the Western Society of Engineers as follows:
Men already know how to construct wings or aeroplanes, which when driven through the air at sufficient speed, will not only sustain the weight of the wings themselves, but also that of the engine, and of the engineer as well. Men also know how to build screws of sufficient lightness and power to drive these planes at sustaining speed. . . . Inability to balance and steer still confronts students of the flying problem. . . . When this one