Reducing Pilot Stress

Maintaining cockpit safety when adding new equipment.

A headline from February 2008 issue of AgAir Update reads “Ag-aviation accidents widespread in 2007” regarding US accident rates. In summary, the article discusses where, when, and in some cases how, these accidents occurred. One very important comment that was made is that nearly 70% of the fatal accidents in 2007 were non-mechanical, in other words possibly pilot error. Below is a perspective on how that could be addressed.

Increasing demands and a more complex cockpit add stress to a pilot’s environment.

Ag pilots are some of the highest trained and most experienced operators of aircraft, but because of the technological gains, the cockpit has become more complex and demanding. Demands for higher productivity, greater efficiency, reduction of operating costs, compliance with environmental standards, while maintaining safety, has added additional stress on the pilot. – Reducing pilot stress not only improves safety but improves productivity too.

How pilot cockpit organization affects safety and productivity.

Much is said and discussed about many topics relating to the industry and its performance but very little about the pilots’ cockpit organization. “Cockpit Resource Management” (C.R.M.) should provide the pilot with an operating environment and setting that enables the pilot to do a job safely.  C.R.M., should also include Ergonomic considerations and factor in Situational Awareness (SA).

Cockpit Resource Management (C.R.M.)

By definition, C.R.M. is the effective utilization of all available resources, information, equipment combined with the human ability to achieve a safe and efficient flight operation.


Ergonomics, also known as human engineering or human factors engineering, is the science of designing machines, products and systems to maximize the safety, comfort and efficiency of the people who use them.

Situational Awareness (SA)

SA is one of the most critical and challenging aspects of a pilot’s job. It can be thought of as an internalized mental model of the current state of the flight environment. This integrated picture forms the central organizing feature from which all decision-making and action takes place. A vast portion of a pilot’s job is involved in developing SA and staying current in a rapidly changing environment.

Dangers presented by the installation of ancillary equipment.

It is obvious that aircraft manufacturers pay great attention to these topics in the design of their products and specifically cockpit layouts, however, problems arise when ancillary equipment is installed.  For ag pilots this means equipment such as spray systems and aircraft guidance, data gathering and mapping systems. If the above C.R.M., Ergonomics and S.A. are not integrated into the design and installation of the ancillary equipment, changes to the operating environment increase pilot stress and jeopardize safety and productivity.

Maintaining out the window (OTW) emphasis to ensure pilot safety and productivity.

As an example, OTW, (out the window) is emphasized by PAASS as a primary safety consideration. Any ancillary equipment installed in an aircraft that requires the pilot to divert his attention inside the cockpit for any length of time creates a direct hazard and should not occur.

All installed equipment should have the ability to be integrated and operated through controls that are familiar to the pilot, and all visual information and communications should be available within pilot line of site and peripheral vision and form part of his normal instrument scanning process.

This approach will ensure productivity and most importantly safety for the pilot. In simple language, by reducing pilot stress the chance of pilot error decreases and fewer accidents occur.

About DynaNav
DynaNav manufactures pilot-friendly equipment designed to improve in-flight productivity and safety.  DynaNav’s modular approach ensures maximum flexibility by enabling components to be mixed and matched to meet the specific needs of a variety of customers.

Since 1995 the Company has been manufacturing products for use in aerial agriculture (fixed- and rotary-wing applications), seismic, forestry, and other industries.  Because DynaNav products are software-driven, the Company proudly lays claim to the fact that every system ever produced can still be functioning and operational.  President, Reg Moen offers this promise: “At DynaNav our customers will never suffer through an obsolescence program.” DynaNav, simple by design … flexible in application.

© 2017 Dynanav | Simple by design ... flexible in application.

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