Emergency Descent Plans, Procedures, and Context

Amy Pritchett and Jennifer Ockerman

When an emergency descent to land is required, planning this descent can be challenging; decisions must be made quickly but may dramatically alter the options available later. This study examines portraying emergency descent plans to pilots as procedures in which important elements of context are highlighted. Under time pressure, pilots evaluated plans which were presented with a variety of contextual elements, were accurate and inaccurate, and included situations where aircraft damage did and did not alter flight characteristics. Pilots were little better than chance in evaluating a plan’s accuracy. However, procedure context information did improve their reasoning about the plan.

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