Autogenic Feedback Training Exercise and pilot performance: enhanced functioning under search-and-rescue flying conditions.Int J Aviat Psychol. 2001; 11(3):303-15.IJ
Studies have shown that autonomous mode behavior is one cause of aircraft fatalities due to pilot error. In such cases, the pilot is in a high state of psychological and physiological arousal and tends to focus on one problem, while ignoring more critical information. This study examined the effect of training in physiological self-recognition and regulation, as a means of improving crew cockpit performance. Seventeen pilots were assigned to the treatment and control groups matched for accumulated flight hours. The treatment group contained 4 pilots from HC-130 Hercules aircraft and 4 HH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilots; the control group contained 3 pilots of HC-130s and 6 helicopter pilots. During an initial flight, physiological data were recorded on each crewmember and an instructor pilot rated individual crew performance. Eight crewmembers were then taught to regulate their own physiological response levels using Autogenic-Feedback Training Exercise (AFTE). The remaining participants received no training. During a second flight, treatment participants showed significant improvement in performance (rated by the same instructor pilot as in pretests) while controls did not improve. The results indicate that AFTE management of high states of physiological arousal may improve pilot performance during emergency flying conditions.