View Full Version : Psychologists for GF FOs and Cadets

6th Jun 2001, 19:50
Gulf Air, flagship carrier of Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, has become the first airline in the Middle East to implement the evaluation of non-technical abilities as an essential part of their pilot selection procedures.
As well as being expected to reach the highest standards of technical ability, all Gulf Air First Officers, pilot recruits and cadets will now be subject to an assessment by qualified aviation psychologists, in order to confirm that they possess the personality characteristics and operational attitudes appropriate for an airline pilot. These checks are intended to ensure good progress in flight training, and are linked to a broader programme within the company to promote Crew Resource Management (CRM) principles as a further means to improve safety and proficiency.
Gulf Air's new pilot evaluation procedures are the result of nearly 12 months development. The procedures have been specially designed in conjunction with the Aviation and Space Psychology Department of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), one of the world's leading independent organisations involved in the selection of operational aviation personnel.
Captain Peter Weiss, Gulf Air's Vice-President Operations, who masterminded the development of the new procedure, commented:
"In close collaboration with the DLR, Gulf Air has designed and implemented a system of pilot evaluation and selection for flight training that is comparable to those adopted by any of the most forward thinking international airlines.
"As well as helping to reduce failure rates during initial training, resulting in significant cost savings, this is one of the single most effective methods of developing top quality pilots."
Some major Western carriers, as well as other leading airlines, have already adopted similar systematic pilot selection procedures and have benefited from lower rates of failure during flight training.
Gulf Air's working agreement with DLR, which has 50 years experience in aviation and space psychology and is responsible for the selection of all German airline pilots, as well as astronauts for the European Space Agency, will eventually have far reaching implications for Gulf Air, Captain Weiss added:
"All pilots, cabin crew, ground staff and air traffic control personnel work in a challenging environment. As part of the new CRM programme, the principles of assessment and training currently being adopted for pilots will be expanded to apply to other personnel. The aim is to help all our staff to be better equipped to operate in high pressure and often critical situations," he said.
In the first 12 months of the new selection programme, approximately 180 pilots will be assessed. The procedures employed will depend upon their entry level or current position in the company, and last between one and three days:
'Ab initio' applicants (with no previous aviation experience) undergo the full selection process, involving interviews, questionnaires, and psychomotor apparatus tests, while direct-entry pilots undergo concise versions of the aptitude and personality assessment, before interview, in addition to a simulator assessment.


Reaction for GF072 perhaps?

7th Jun 2001, 00:33
Horse / Stable door ???

7th Jun 2001, 14:01
So easy to be cynical isn't it!
But it is actually not much harder to say -"Wow, someone is trying hard now to do the right thing; let's congratulate them".

(And it might make you feel good inside too!)

7th Jun 2001, 15:00
The skeletons are feeling restless!

high & fast
7th Jun 2001, 15:01
Emirates already comprehensively carry out these assessments during their initial selection procedures. So GF not the first in Middle East.

7th Jun 2001, 15:14
I think EK have a "strait" one for all whacko test where as GF have got the DLR who are supposedly "experts" in aeronautical whacko tests. The question is how much input and reliability have these tests got in deciding if you can poke a tube of aluminim around the sky?

7th Jun 2001, 23:57
Right. 100% on target!

8th Jun 2001, 01:16
Seems the problem re. the DLR testing in GF is that of belling the cat. Apparently, the seniors want the testing to begin with the juniors, and vice-versa.
The changes in seniority rules will compound the matter.
On the other hand, after the testing by DLR, on the lines of Lufthansa, is there hope that one day GF pilots will go on strike ? ;)

8th Jun 2001, 01:56
nice to see them catching up, but really leading the industry is a bit much..
in 1964 my lot were doing this ..

Joey Gray
8th Jun 2001, 02:19
.........so much for the space psycology deptt of the DLR.
One can understand these tests for fresh recruits with no aviation experience , but i'm told they recently told of a Capt with over 20 years experience and a accident free record that he should have never been a pilot-now thats a bit far fetched. Don't you think!!
One thought Lufthansa consultancy had been hired to help Gulf Air regain it's past glory and attract the fare paying public -but these guys seem to be wasting everybody's time.

Joey Gray
8th Jun 2001, 02:27
Doing What.....Sweeper, Space psycology and CRM, you've gotta be kidding......in 1964 sure. Wonder if NASA was doing it then. You should know.

8th Jun 2001, 02:45
What psych tests are the Execs of Gulf Air,that squander millions of dinars a year,doing?

8th Jun 2001, 03:40
What can you do about it ?

I agree that Airlines use psychometric test to screen their candidates, but these test need to be done in a serene manner.

To be credible, the candidate needs to be debriefed about the results of the test, in writing.

After all flying an A 320 for company A, B or C does not change the fact, that, the job basically remains the same.

I can not see any reason why, a candidate that has flown the A 320 successfully for many years, would suddenly be inapt for psychological reasons ?

The aforementioned test are not exact science, if you put three psychiatrist around the table, and you can be sure they will never reach an agreement.

The best environment to test a pilot, is the simulator environment, not only do you asses the piloting and technical skills of the candidate,but also his personality traits.

Combined with elaborated intelligence test and psychometric test, you should be able to come to a fair assessment.

Maybe these test should be done by the CAA as part of your ATPL, in the end, it's the CAA that issues your licence, NOT the airline you work for.

The process of hiring a pilot would then only concentrate on the question, does this pilot fit in our organisation or not ?

The current situation may put question marks behind the fact, should this pilot be entitled to a licence or not.

A responsibility of the CAA and not the Airline.

Making these test accessible at an early stage to people who want to become a pilot, might be a good thing to start with.

After all, the same principle applies when you want to get into university.

Smooth Trimmer

8th Jun 2001, 03:46
Streamline youd probabley find 98% of us would fail a wacko-test if you gave one tomorrow.

8th Jun 2001, 04:03
Fill me in on the details of the whacko test.

Smooth Trimmer

8th Jun 2001, 09:36
One must agree that if you knew a pilot personally and then was told he failed his phsyco test,with your observation of his attitudes and complacency,you are prone to believe the test is quite accurate in pin pointing the same in that individual !!!!

8th Jun 2001, 10:43
Ansett had the dreaded psych test in the old days and TAA didn't. Both airlines employed the odd pilot you wouldn't allow to clean the aircraft,let alone fly it! Total waste of time IMHO. However,in this day and age with "parker pen" log books,computerised licences and scanners, I guess you have to establish some form of bottom line for recruiting.

8th Jun 2001, 12:09
It sounds like pure politics to me - Nothing more.

Fair enough - testing new applicants before recruitment could serve some practical purposes, if only to ensure that cadets are more accurate clones of eachother, and will fit into the company's mould.

Testing experienced pilots though? If the head-shrinker with his degree in psycho-voodoo thought a skipper with 20 years experience to be unsuitable for the job, what are they going to do about it? Not a lot, I'd guess, and I'd bet my life savings on that (Presently standing at about -8000)


5 APU's captain
8th Jun 2001, 13:20
Excellent test for the fresh recruits, and not so bad for experienced pilots, as my experience shows(I've got about 5 success).

9th Jun 2001, 19:32
Not squandered Whiskery...."disappeared"

9th Jun 2001, 23:14
Further to this story about GulfAir now utilising psychologists to assess the "suitability" of their current aircrew (you might be aware that one experienced captain [at least] has already been grounded for some weeks as a prelude to dismissal for "unsuitability"). As I know only too well, the Arabs are likely to use this novel weapon as an instrument of threat and repression. They have just the psyche for that. I saw it used in the Royal Saudi Air Force against both expats and Arabs who were not toeing the party-line (too much Western education, contact and identification).

Psychologists have been using the remunerative area of "outplacement" for years as a real money-spinner (particularly when their background retainer contract with the companies they serve is in reality to eliminate unwanted employees - get them to go quietly with just the right amount of guilt and stigma that they won't make a fuss). It's a hard one to fight when a chappie with a lot of letters after his name suddenly ups and says, after a battery of tests, that Captain XXX is not psychologically suited to airline aviation (despite his many thousands of hours). How can Captain XXX fight that sort of denunciation? No court in the land would uphold unfair dismissal in the face of such a damning professional opinion. I think we might see this next in Singapore Airlines where there are many known dissident expats that SIA is trying to eliminate. I have myself seen a pilot friend eliminated by the RAAF. He became an "embarrassment" after he caught his wife in bed with her boss, beat up the guy and broke his wife's arm in the melee. The system decided to outplace him. Of course he was grounded first and then increasingly alienated via proven processes. He's now with CASA (or was when last heard of). It was pathetically McCarthyist and left people in the Squadron who were in the know both depressed and very fearful that they could easily be dealt with in a similar fashion - if they stuck their heads above the parapet.

So far this type of weapon has not been used widely against pilots but with the increase in pilot suicides, airborna and non-flying, it may well prove to be in future (and so become yet another stressor for aircrews). Because of the social stigma, many pilots would simply choose to go quietly rather than have their licences pulled (because the logical extension of the threat is that the company would arrange for the FAA, CAA etc etc to become aware of the psychologist's learned finding). Once the regulator found out, do you think that they would fail to follow through? Not likely? Ask Skydrifter perhaps.

From what I'm hearing, this is happening, and not just in GF - but it's being kept fairly quiet and mostly done with great discretion and claimed integrity - behind closed doors. It may be hard to gather statistics on. IMHO it is likely to create many more problems than it would ever solve (or avoid). Gulfair seems to be taking great pride in the fact that they are "breaking new ground". That's an intriguingly novel philosophy - avoiding accidents by breaking new ground.

10th Jun 2001, 10:34
Re. the GF shrink testing - a mate tells me that the testing is applicable to all pilots taken into the company from 1.1.2000 onwards, except the guys that flew for Transair.
"All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others"