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Decision Making Models

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Decision Making Models

Old 27th Feb 2021, 11:04
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Decision Making Models

I am researching a project looking at airlines' decision making models. The area that interests me is the Pilot's view of these models - in particular the mnemonics expected to be used after an inflight issue.

What mnemonic(s) have you been trained to use?
Did they work as intended?
Would you recommend it?
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 11:28
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I have been both trained on DODAR and FORDEC. In my view they both describe pretty much the same process with slightly different terms. Both work quite well and both are a good tool to have for a structured approach to decision making and failure handling.

D iagnosis
O ptions
D ecide
A ssign tasks
R eview

F acts
O ptions
R isks and benefits
D ecision
E xecution
C heck
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 12:35
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An interesting sub-project might be to investigate why people (perhaps with not enough to do) persist in inventing slightly different processes with different mnemonics to achieve what is basically the same thing.

Does the idea of a locum pilot exist? Does anyone work for one airline one week and for another airline next week? If so, it surely can't help the CRM if the first thing you have to do, when an incident occurs, is to remember which decision model you should be using. "Who am I working for today? Should I be using DODAR or FORDEC or DECIDE or SOCAE?"

By the way, the last step in each process - variously Review or Check or Evaluate - meaning, of course, the same thing - is always important. It's easy to get fixated on what you decided to do and to forget to ask yourself, as the situation unfolds, whether it's working and whether you might change your mind in the light of new evidence.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 12:40
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Very true OldLurker
The idea of mnemonics can be a bit clumsy in itself
I always see things like E evaluate, or D decide. In all honesty, that's what you are already doing.
You need to cut the crap and get to the bones.
For instance, Airbus QRH groups complex failure management under sub-groups of Cruise, Approach, Landing and Go-around.
Here's my tip. Write these down, and under each, note what you need to do to get your job done.
This involves available Airports and Wx, ATC, Company, FAs, PAs, Checklists
It's all pretty obvious if you think about it. There is no need to use things like G gather, C collate, or F fly... that's not very helpful really, now is it?

Last edited by Buttscratcher; 27th Feb 2021 at 13:01.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 14:12
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A- Access
A- Action

Simple but works fine.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 14:45
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Used FORDEC a lot. It works, but
In the end - whatever it is called - it is a big chunk of common sense, spiced up with experience, technical knowledge, Crew Resource and Time Management.

2 things to note from my point of view:
- Usually missing is a quantifier on "Risks/Benefits" or "Options". Benefit of a 900 feet longer runway with a medical emergency is negligible, but maybe not with a hydraulic problem.
- In my opinion it is also quite important to do the evaluations several times - depending on your workload and time available. Usually "Facts, Risks/Benefits and Options" change slightly with more information gathered and more though brought into the problem - which might lead in the end to different executions or decisions.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 16:52
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The worst I have encountered was GRADE:


Basically rubbish-who reviews before analysing, or indeed evaluating? Some bright spark tried to make it fit into a neat word. It didn’t last long, and I don’t recall anyone ever using it!
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 18:34
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Several of the mnemonics used in decision making are shown on slide 5.

The choice of which is used could be influenced by operators emphasis on aspects in the process; e.g. understanding the situation, risk assessment. Also, safety principles, a satisfactory solution (safe outcome) vs the best solution.

The as intended aspect depends on the overall process, this starts with awareness and continues to the decision:-


Mnemonics used in training do not necessarily have the same value in operation.
Many operational decisions have limited time periods, requiring naturalistic or situation recognition decision making which depends on expertise; thus which is the better mnemonic in real operations for developing experience.
Considering the latter, this might be an interesting investigation: - which mnemonic better aids learning and expertise. Then which provides the more the optimum results - but beware hindsight, which could also influence which is recommended.

I did not use any in my flying; decision making was within airmanship, but I don't know how that was taught or improved.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 19:03
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Especially the last part is quite important in my view. I always see those mnemonics as circular, the "Check" or "Evaluate" is basically a direct pointer to the first point of it and it all starts over, and it has to start over. It is our job to constantly do that thing even in normal ops, just not with as much urgency and guided in a large part by SOPs, regardless, all the steps, and it doesn't really matter which set one has to use, it is a circular never ending thing.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 00:06
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I’ve seen many different pilots with many different mnemonics, but I’m a little simple, and have trouble remembering what the letters stand for😂

My company “suggests” G.R.A.D.E.

Recently a Check Captain asked what was wrong with:

It was a fair point, just use the same decision model for all events.

Good luck with your research.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 05:04
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DODAR, T-DODAR, DOLDAR the list goes on. They're a tool that is primarily used by TREs to assess your decision making. It's very easy to say "let's divert/continue/return" - sometimes the solution is glaringly obvious, but they want to see that you've considered all the options. Of course you would hope that it becomes a habit that allows you to make considered decisions if you ever need to for real. Everyone tends to interpret decision making tools differently, and thus adopt slightly different versions but the important thing to remember was mentioned earlier - every time you take any action, run the whole process again.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 10:39
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My previous company used the PIOSEE model. Problem, Information,Options, Select, Execute, Evaluate
In more recent years they took a very progressive approach toward training its use. When the course of action required was glaringly obvious, we encouraged crew to just get on with it. Where the course of action needed wasn't clear or obvious, then a structured decision making model should be used. PIOSEE was recommended but if the crew felt more comfortable with another model then that was also fine. The whole point was that the important thing was making good decisions and not the method by which that decision was arrived at.

It was also recognised that forcing the crew to use a specific model in a SIM training event where it wasn't necessary was bad practice. Essentially you are requiring a crew to use a structured model when they already know what they are going to do. Starting a decision making process with your mind already made up is just negative training.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 10:51
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I agree with @Fired600 & @rudestuff, the simplicity of AAM is also its deficiency: its great when you know what to do, but for beginners it is too brief.

Any model/mnemonic is acceptable, but change is counter-productive. As a gross over-simplification, they are all the same but use different words for each step, with some models combining steps, and others expanding into additional steps.

I like the DECIDE model, because it does “what it says on the tin”, but I don’t know the names of the steps or how to implement that model. Based on the models that I have used, I would suggest that there is lot more integrated CRM training required to effectively use any of these models.

For example, the Time element, sometimes illustrated by traffic lights: is this time critical, how much time is available, or required? Without the understanding of this model, Assess can go horribly wrong.

In my previous company, I was astonished to learn that DM needed to be taught. Don't you just decide: coffee, or tea; chicken, or beef? While these 'decisions' may appear instantaneous, and therefore unteachable, they can still be deconstructed in to a process (time of day, previous consumption, time available, too hot, cost and preference).

It’s also worth considering that prior to an event, some PS & SA may have already occurred, which it ought to, making the decision potentially seem hurried. Most evaluators can see beyond this, but it not really about them.

The goal is to produce a crew that is 'prepared for anything', including something that they were not prepared for!

Good luck.

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Old 28th Feb 2021, 18:21
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We use (T)-DORDAR.
After Options - Risks/Benefits. Some say it's not required but for some folks, they need that reminder.
I've used it during a LOFT sesh in the LCOT (lurching cave of terror) and a couple of times for real.

alf5071h makes some very good points WRT Naturalistic Decision making. I'm quite a fan of it and know it works quite well when time's an issue.
Problem is that humans are great at finding a "that'll do" result, also, we can be "lazy" and once we've found a "that'll do/familiar" result we may miss a better option if we stop "looking". Hence working through a model that encourages discussion and options. (Time permitting of course).
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 21:16
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rudestuff, #11,

compressor stall, et al,
There is a significant research base on decision making, generally from a failure point of view. As an example, the following paper provides an overview, identifying aspects which operators might include in their training and mnemonic as they judge best. http://www.pacdeff.com/pdfs/Errors%2...n%20Making.pdf

As rudestuff and awair note, the longer term objective is to embed the decision process as a habit in normal behaviour.
A paper at the recent BALPA conference considered novice and expert behaviour; table 1 in:-


The expectations of a novice, with use of mnemonics to achieve basic skills, is procedural, compliant, ‘controlled’. The expectations of experts are significantly different, being ‘empowered’, situational application, adaptation, knowing when to change.
There is no clear indiction of how the transition to an expert is achieved.
Which mnemonic might aid a transition from novice behaviour to expertise.
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Old 1st Mar 2021, 02:49
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alf5071h Some great information there, and thanks also to the other contributors.

I've always been an Aviate Navigate Communicate man myself, followed by gathering info, discussing, weighing options, doing and reviewing in an practical scaled response process. It is interesting what others are using out there and - more importantly - does it help them.

A bit to digest above, and doubtless more to follow. Thanks!

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Old 1st Mar 2021, 05:34
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Couldn't agree more.
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Old 1st Mar 2021, 12:07
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Having your mind already made up AKA tunnel vision is not a good idea. There was still a decision making process that went into your plan, and no one is saying that DODAR (or whatever) has to all happen in the sky. For example: "If the engine fails after V1, we'll fly the plane (A), do the memory stuff and follow this EFP (N) when we've got that done we'll tell ATC what we're doing (C) once above MSA we'll head towards ABCDE, hold if necessary and read the book with a view to returning."
For that particular D, the ODA is done on the ground - but you still need an R in the sky. Is the weather still ok? Has someone crashed and closed the runway? etc.. because if they have then you need to run the whole thing again from the start.
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Old 1st Mar 2021, 13:08
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compressor stall

The Aviate, Navigate, Communicate part was and is, in all training i received about those mnemonics, always considered the absolute basics of airmanship that have to be there in the first place, only after that is covered can you think about more intricate models and processes. Flying an airbus that is of course covered by the golden rules, but the same is intrinsically true for any other aircraft. I wouldn't see those as a decision making model, just as the basic skill required to be in that seat in the first place.
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Old 1st Mar 2021, 21:49
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Ive used fordec grade dodar and t-dodar.

I like t-dodar when it’s used properly. The t being the most important element. I was trained that the t yes meant time. But the time was “how much time do I have to make a decision”. Engine on fire just after take off. Well none. Mid Atlantic 3 hours away from nearest suitable. All the time in the world (essentially).

after the t it’s the review. Review review review. Until you’ve shut down.
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