Pilots wanted for UWS air safety studies

Date: 23/10/2002

The University of Western Sydney is about to begin two new research projects, aimed at improving safety standards and flight skills of general aviation pilots.

Dr Mark Wiggins, from the University's Human Performance in Aviation Research group, says pilots themselves will have an integral role to play in the research findings.

"Our research is aimed at improving pilots' decision-making skills in different flying situations," he says.

Dr Wiggins says the first research project will examine whether pilots' flying skills can be maintained while they're not in the air.

"We'll be examining whether pilots' decision-making and information processing skills deteriorate over time. This is an important issue for general aviation pilots, because most tend to fly irregularly," Dr Wiggins says.

"Pilots who volunteer to take part in the study will be tested several times on the University's flight simulator, while we monitor their performance."

Dr Wiggins says the second project will look at the way information from authorities is presented to pilots.

"We'll be researching whether improvements in the presentation of information, such as forecasts from the Bureau of Meterology, would help pilots deal more effectively with sudden changes in the aviation environment," Dr Wiggins says.

"We believe that if pilots can anticipate what may happen while they're in the air, they'll be better equipped to cope with potentially dangerous flying situations."

Dr Wiggins says recruiting general aviation pilots to take part in this type of research is vital.

"We need to ensure that our research findings are accurate and appropriate, so getting feedback from working pilots is very important," he says.

"We're interested in hearing from general aviation pilots of different ages, backgrounds and experience, who may be interested in taking part in questionnaire surveys and flight simulations."

Dr Wiggins says the aim of the Research Group has been to reduce the number of light plane crashes through improved safety initiatives.

"This pilot-driven focus has helped us develop practical and cost-effective strategies for general aviation safety, such as the Weatherwise CD-Rom training program, used extensively in the United States and Australia," Dr Wiggins says.

"We appreciate the input of pilots in this type of research, and hope their expertise can help us better train aviators, and reduce the number of fatal accidents."

The University respects the privacy of those involved in the pilots' register, and the confidentiality of any results supplied. The register is only accessible by members of the Human Performance in Aviation Research Group. For more information please contact:

Brett Molesworth
Human Performance in Aviation Research Group
MARCS Auditory Laboratories (University of Western Sydney)
Ph: 02-9772 6660
Fax: 02-9772 6736
Email: aviation.research@uws.edu.au

Media Enquiries:
Angela McIntyre
Senior Media Officer
02-9678 7424
0419 244 595
Email: a.mcintyre@uws.edu.au