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Flight hours and flight crew performance in commercial aviation
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by M Todd, Matthew ThomasMatthew Thomas
OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between a pilot's flight hours and their performance. BACKGROUND: There is current debate in the aviation industry on the minimum hours required for first officers to gain before they can fly for an airline. Despite years of pilot training and licensing, there are very little data available to determine whether or not pilot performance varies as a function of total hours within an airline environment. METHOD: Flight crew performance was measured during 287 sectors of normal operations against a set of technical and nontechnical measurements. Flightcrew were grouped into a categorical variable which defined low and high experience groups according to industry accepted thresholds. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences between experience groups for First Officers or Captains against the set of technical measures; however, there were minor differences with regard to nontechnical measures as a function of crew composition. There was also a difference in automation use, with First Officers with less than 1500 h keeping the autopilot engaged until a significantly lower altitude. DISCUSSION: Despite on-going debate that low-hour First Officers are not as capable as their more experienced colleagues, we found no evidence of this in our study.