Date Published: December 18, 2009
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Amanda M. Cooksey, Nausheen Momen, Russell Stocker, Shane C. Burgess, Stefan Bereswill. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008371
Abstract: Attrition of students from aviation training is a serious financial and operational concern for the U.S. Navy. Each late stage navy aviator training failure costs the taxpayer over $1,000,000 and ultimately results in decreased operational readiness of the fleet. Currently, potential aviators are selected based on the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), which is a series of multiple-choice tests that evaluate basic and aviation-related knowledge and ability. However, the ASTB does not evaluate a person’s response to stress. This is important because operating sophisticated aircraft demands exceptional performance and causes high psychological stress. Some people are more resistant to this type of stress, and consequently better able to cope with the demands of naval aviation, than others.
Partial Text: Attrition of trainees from the aviation program is a continuing concern for the U.S. Navy. Each late stage navy aviator training failure costs the taxpayer over $1,000,000 and ultimately results in decreased operational readiness of the fleet. Over the past 20 years the attrition rate of incoming aviation students has been between 15–25%. Failures occur for a variety of reasons including medical problems. However, most attritions result from academic or flight performance failures or requests to be dropped from the program (DoR; drop on request). Naval aviation is a highly stressful occupation requiring the ability to respond quickly and appropriately in dangerous situations. While there is no measure of the impact of psychological stress on attrition from the program, it makes a clear contribution to academic/flight performance failures and DoR. Biological screening of potential aviators based on performance under psychological stress could reduce all of the major contributing factors of attrition thus saving the Navy millions of dollars.