Classification problems of U.S. Air Force spatial disorientation accidents, 1989-91.Aviat Space Environ Med. 1994 Feb; 65(2):147-52.AS
Spatial disorientation (SD) continues to contribute to a fairly constant proportion of military aircraft accidents. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) fielded a new accident investigation reporting form in July 1989, which for the first time specified Type I SD, Type II SD, and Type III SD as possible causes of aircraft accidents. Of a total of 91 major accidents that occurred over the 2-year period beginning in October 1989, SD was rated as contributing significantly to 13 (14%). Coding for SD on accident investigation reporting forms was not consistent, however. Individual flight surgeons differed in their approaches to coding accidents as SD-related; other differences were noted between flight surgeons and pilots, and additional procedural differences resulted in inconsistent reporting over time. There is a consensus that SD represents a major problem in military aviation, but a scientific approach to this important problem would be facilitated if agreement could be reached on definitional and semantic issues.