Reduced Pilot Alertness & Non-Technical Skills

Research Paper Title

Flight Performance Aspects During Military Helicopter Flights.


A flight is composed of many flight performance aspects. However, not all of these aspects are equally important for the success and safety of a flight. When investigating the influence of a stressor on flight performance, it is important to understand not only which flight performance aspects are important for the success and the safety of the flight, but also which of these aspects will most likely be affected by reduced alertness.


A total of 136 helicopter pilots of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) of all qualification levels were invited to participate in a three-round ranking Delphi study.


A total of 41 (30%) helicopter pilots completed the first questionnaire round and 20 (77%) flight instructors completed the ranking round. The top ten skills elements comprised seven nontechnical skills (NTS), namely, awareness of the environment, decision making, workload management, stress management, planning and coordinating, general knowledge, and basic fitness; and three technical skills (TS), that is, advanced aircraft handling, flight manoeuvres and procedures, and abnormal and emergency procedures. The top three ranked skill elements (awareness of environment, decision making, and workload management) were considered by the flight instructors to be highly influenced by reduced pilot alertness.


NTS are considered more important and more affected by reduced pilot alertness during operational helicopter flight compared to TS.


Steinman, Y., van den Oord, M.H.A.H., Frings-Dresen, M.H.W. & Sluiter, J.K. (2019) Flight Performance Aspects During Military Helicopter Flights. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 90(4), pp.389-395. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.5226.2019.


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