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Pilot Training: on the “Sim”

April 8, 2010

My son is a pilot, consequentially I am very interested in his regular check and training sessions. By law, throughout their career, pilots in all airlines have to undergo pretty rigorous real-time training runs, check flights etc. When my son goes to Melbourne to perform on the “SIM” (that is short for “simulator”),  he sits in the simulated cockpit of an aeroplane and his supervisor “throws everything at him”!!!! This is “pilotese” for engines failing or on fire, instruments crashing, weather etc.

The reason for the simulation training is to expand on the real-world aircraft training, teach cockpit resource management and simulate emergencies that are impossible to safely duplicate in the air. Not only does he speed up his responses which are critical for real-time decision-making, high-demand tasks, he also learns to keep his emotions in check (the dead calm of pilots). He also has regular medical check-ups. What else would we, as passengers expect of our pilots? They must be ready and cognitively capable of dealing with all possible emergencies.

A Parallel?

Can you see the parallel I am suggesting? By working on your own brain fitness and thinking about what pilots have to do

  • about keeping in training, life-long learning
  • about managing resources,
  • about a healthy brain.
  • about optimising your performance ,

your situation can be no different in principle from the everyday expectations we have of our pilots.

Simulation on your computer

By working on your computer on brain fitness you are increasing brain plasticity and other resources like  increased attention and an expanding “useful field of view” (UFOV). That should stand you in good stead in real time when you are driving. Although we can’t exactly simulate emergencies in  the real-world there is clear evidence that training with computer simulation can transfer to aspects of real world experience.

By working on scientifically validated computerised brain fitness exercises and looking after your health and fitness, you are managing your resources in order to keep sharp (at whatever age), to be active and at the best you can be-in-the-real-world now and for the future….just like our pilots.

“What research has shown over the last 15-20 years is that cognition, or what we call thinking and performance, is really a set of skills that we can train systematically. And that computer-based cognitive trainers or “cognitive simulations” are the most effective and efficient way to do so.”
Professor Daniel Gopher, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Human Factors Engineering, Israel’s Institute of Science.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2010 8:00 pm

    Hello, Margaret.

    I like this analogy. It brings home the truth that most of the time we’re not using our brains to full capacity — they’re just ticking over. So if we want them to be in top shape we need to put them through some rigorous exercise. Brain training needs to be a regular part of our fitness program if we want to stay sharp.


    • April 11, 2010 2:08 pm

      Hello Martin,
      Thanks for the comment….. time passes even if one is mindlessly ticking over. It’s rather sad.

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