Gliding an Airbus A320 - Simplicity-Complexity Trade-Off
Abstract: In the unlikely critical event of an Airbus A320 aeroplane suffering an all engines failure at cruising altitude, would the pilots be able to follow procedures and land safely on a reachable runway? Nine out of twelve simulations done during this research resulted in a crash when the pilots used only the Airbus procedures. Can the pilots make a safe landing on a runway after being taught and having practised judgment heuristics in addition to the manufacturer procedures? According to the sampled results in this research, they can. All of them. This research proposes an experimental comparative simulation design, drawing upon the Cognitive Systems Engineering approach, exploring the contribution of judgment heuristics – as a feedforward artefact addition to the manufacturer procedure – to manage the situation. The results point to a significant benefit of adding judgment heuristics to the pilots’ ‘toolbox’. The conclusion proposes further research to explore the potential benefits of training pilots the use of judgment heuristics for other critical situations as part of the airline pilot training syllabus. It also suggests a re-design of the Airbus A320 ALL ENGINES FAIL procedure.
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