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Conference Proceeding

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Aircraft accidents resulting from attempted visual flight rules (VFR) flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) continue to be one of the leading causes of fatalities in aviation. The aim of this study is to determine the role which two decision biases— optimistic bias and ability bias—may play in pilots’ decisions and perceptions of risk regarding VFR flight into IMC. A questionnaire designed to test for the presence of these biases was administered to 57 pilots enrolled in a university flight-training program and 103 general aviation pilots attending two FAA aviation safety seminars. Respondents were asked to rate their chances of experiencing an accident due to inadvertent VFR flight into IMC and their ability to avoid or successfully fly out of such conditions. Results indicate that VFR pilots are overly optimistic regarding their chances of experiencing a VFR-into-IMC accident, and are overconfident in their ability to both avoid and successfully fly out of IMC.


Article originally published in Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology.


Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology