Remembrance of cases past: Who remembers what, when confronting critical flight events?

David O'Hare*, Mark Wiggins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Recent "naturalistic" theories of decision making emphasize the role of stored prior experiences or cases as a guide to current action. However, there is little empirical evidence on the role that case-based remindings play in real-life decision making. The present study utilized a Web-based survey to collect data about the role of prior cases in pilot decision making about critical flight events. Results showed that more than half of the 1081 pilots who responded could provide details about utilizing a previous case in responding to a critical flight event. These events were most likely to involve weather or equipment failure. The cases were found to be useful in situational assessment rather than option evaluation. The use of cases increased with age and experience. Data obtained from a concurrent conventional survey showed broadly similar results. The implications of these results are that case-based remindings play an important role in expert pilot decision making and that a training system that incorporates case-based learning would be a potentially useful means of improving pilot decision making. Actual or potential applications of this research include the development of case-based training systems to enhance flight training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-287
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


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