“Houston, we have a problem!”

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Problem-solving and Decision-making in Aviation

In last month’s skill-UP article, about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in aviation, the team stated that the introduction of AI in the cockpit will, potentially, be “the most critical and complex” development in AI aviation (Carlo & Gauci, 2021). This type of technology could assist in the flight crew decision-making process. However, as Orasanu (2010) states, it’s impossible to design an error-proof system that can cope with all unexpected events. Thus, the flight crew and their problem solving and decision-making processes, are the “last line of defence”.

Every change in the world, every action that guides the course of society has a common core: problem-solving and decision-making.

The process of choosing what needs attention, setting goals and designing action courses.

Evaluation and choice among the alternative actions

In high consequences industries in which human life is at stake, such as aviation, the decision-making process can be the difference between life and death (Mrusek & Douglas, 2020). Thus, aeronautical decision-making has been considered one of the most important issues of flight education for future professional pilots. However, this competency, which is so crucial to the industry, often receives little to no emphasis in pilot training (Lee et al., 2005).

Problem-solving and decision-making were two of the most mentioned skills, among all professionals. Furthermore, according to the World Economic Forum 2020 Report, “Complex Problem Solving” was ranked number 1 in the Top 10 Skills required to sustain in the 4.0 Revolution, and at number 7 was “Judgement and Decision Making”.

As part of the skill-UP project, QSR is currently designing a short course about problem-solving and decision-making skills, for all stakeholders in the aeronautical sector, aiming to develop the problem-solving and decision-making skills of all participants, by:

Keep tuned to find more about skill-up short courses!


Carlo, J. De, & Gauci, J. (2021). Artificial Intelligence in Aviation. Skill-UP. https://www.skillup-air.eu/2021/12/artificial-intelligence-in-aviation/

Lee, J. R., Fanjoy, R. O., & Dillman, B. G. (2005). The Effects of Safety Information on Aeronautical Decision Making. Journal of Air Transportation, 10(3), 3–16.

Mrusek, B., & Douglas, S. (2020). From Classroom to Industry: Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance Decision-Making. Collegiate Aviation Review International, 38(2). http://ojs.library.okstate.edu/osu/index.php/CARI/article/view/8066/7433

Orasanu, J. M. (2010). Flight Crew Decision-Making. In B. Kanki, R. Helmreich, & J. Anca (Eds.), Crew Resource Management (2nd ed., pp. 147–179). Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-374946-8.10005-6

Article written by Marta Pinto, MSc Social and Organisations Psychology, Innovation Center Consultant, and Beatriz Aguiar, MSc Human Resources, Work and Organisations Psychology, Consultant and Skilling Manager at QSR