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Characteristic Traits of Student Helicopter Pilots

Updated: Mar 30

By: Leann DeLorenzo, DBA


Studies have been performed stating helicopter pilots have specific characteristic traits, but what about student helicopter pilots? Do student helicopter pilots exhibit traits prior and/or during their studies and not even know it?


Petrovic and Petrovic (2021) explained that there are three factors; mental, physical ability, and personal motivation that play a part in what makes a successful helicopter pilot. Petrovic and Petrovic (2021) stated that there are different personality traits depending on the type of helicopter pilot. For example, commercial helicopter pilots have been viewed to be agreeable, conscientious, assertive, and methodical.


There are twenty-seven personality traits used as variables to describe a helicopter pilot (Petrovic & Petrovic, 2021). Twenty-two of the twenty-seven are positive and five can be viewed as negative (Petrovic & Petrovic, 2021). It is understood through the studies of Petrovic and Petrovic (2021) that the twenty-seven characteristics can help to determine what type of job a helicopter pilot may hold and on the contrary assist in telling if a pilots personality differs from the general population.


Chul, Sang-chul, Heoi-suk, Seung-mun, and Youn-chul (2019) suggests that the overall efficiency of the pilot is based on the relationship between cognitive and non-cognitive characteristics. According to Breur, Ortner, Gruber, Hofstetter & Scherndl (2023) aviation is a high-responsibility and high-risk professional field, it is of extreme importance measuring an individual’s likelihood of performing successfully as a pilot.



Characteristic Variables of Helicopter Pilots

(Petrovic, Petrovic, 2021)

Positive

Negative

Ambitious

Impulsive

Hard Working

Tense

Sociable

Quarrelsome

Witty

Selfish

Emotional

Stubborn

Creative


Responsible


Determined


Careful


Intelligent


Permissive


Obedient


Righteous


Practical


Self-Critical


Self-Confident


Cooperative


Modest


Patient


Persistent


Efficient


Brave



The non-technical skills that drive effective performance are interpersonal and cognitive skills (Hamlet, Irwin, Flin & Thomson, 2019). Hamlet (2019) explains that non-technical skills are considered as leadership, communication, and teamwork.


Cognitive skills are situational awareness, decision making, and task management (Hamlet, 2019).

In a questionnaire given to five student helicopter pilots they were asked four questions. The five student helicopter pilots are attending the same flight school on the east coast of the United States, but range in age and sex. Each were asked to fill in the answers to the best of their ability, individually. They were asked to not disclose their names, ages, or races.


1-Please check any of these personality traits you consider yourself to have:

Ambitious

Hard Working

Sociable

Witty

Emotional

Creative

Responsible

Determined

Careful

Intelligent

Permissive

Obedient

Righteous

Practical

Self-Critical

Self-Confident

Cooperative

Modest

Patient

Persistent

Efficient

Impulsive

Tense

Quarrelsome

Selfish

Stubborn


2-Please circle what you rate your situational awareness on a scale from 1 (being the lowest) to 5 (being the highest).


1.     2.    3.    4.    5.


3-Please rate your ability to work under pressure 1 (being the lowest) 5 (being the highest).


  1.  2.   3.   4.    5.


4. What is your end goal with your helicopter ratings? (Ideal job)



The results of the questionnaire given were as follows. Out of the five student helicopter pilots they all identified themselves as hard working, responsible, and practical out of the twenty-seven characteristics. Their situational awareness ranged from three up to a five. The majority rated themselves as four for situational awareness. The ability to work under pressure also ranged from three to five, with the majority rating themselves as a four. The open-ended question, asking what their end goal was with helicopter ratings, resulted in a majority writing CFI or CFII, while two did answer with career pilot positions, EMS and military.


In reflection of the questionnaire, it can be understood that student helicopter pilots do carry traits that Petrovic and Petrovic (2021) discussed in helicopter pilots that have completed all ratings from private pilot to commercial. The main traits that are apparent in the study lead to the conclusion that the five student helicopter pilots answer may turn out to be commercial pilots carry out tasks related in the transportation of people and goods (Petrovic & Petrovic, 2021).


The information does lead one to question would the parameters change if asking the student helicopter pilots after they had received their commercial ratings. The study could be further carried out with individual student pilots throughout their progress in receiving ratings to see what path he or she may take and compare it with the twenty-seven characteristics (Petrovic & Petrovic, 2021).


Chul, Sang-chul, Heoi-suk, Seung-mun, and Youn-chul (2019) believe that the individual characteristics at the beginning of training help to positively influence the student pilot throughout the courses, which assist in the level of motivation and efforts. While Petrovic and Petrovic (2021) expressed that the core of the positive traits that are most important of successful helicopter pilots are self-confidant, responsible, and determined. Each of the five student helicopter pilots that answered the questionnaire stated they were responsible.


In reflection to the study and data available those that carry the positive characteristic traits with the determination will become successful helicopter pilots and can understand how personality traits can influence decision-making while flying. Breur, Ortner, Gruber, Hofstetter & Scherndl (2023) explained besides the general ability of flying, the next most important are personality traits, motivation and attitudes. It is crucial for a pilot to have the right personality characteristics that make up the “ideal pilot” ( Breur, Ortner, Gruber, Hofstetter & Scherndl,2023).


Overall, a proper assessment for pilots prior to training could assist in the reduction of accidents, decrease training costs, and lower costly dropouts all while expediting the probability of success in the appropriate time people need to trained to not cause a insufficiency of trained pilots explained Breur, Ortner, Gruber, Hofstetter & Scherndl (2023).




References


Breur, S., Ortner, T. M., Gruber, F.M., Hofstetter, D., & Scherndl, T. (2023). Aviation and personality: Do measures of personality predict pilot training success? Personality & Individual Differences, 202, N. PAG. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2022.111918


Chul, P., Sang-chul, K., Heoi-suk, T., Seung-mun, S., Youn-chul, C. (2019). The correlation between flight training factors in helicopter pilot training course and learning achievement. Journal of Korean Society for Aviation and Aeronautics, 27(3):45-53.https://doi.org/10.12985/ksaa.2019.27.3.045


Hamlet, O., Irwin, A., Flin, R., & Thomson, G. (2019). An exploratory focus group study of factors influencing helicopter pilots’ non-technical skills. https://publications.ergonomics.org.uk/uploads/An-exploratory-focus-group-study-of-factors-influencing-helicopter-pilots-Non-Technical-Skills.pdf 


Petrovic, J., & Petrovic, I. (2021). What makes a successful helicopter pilot? A fuzzy multi-criteria decision making approach. International Journal for Traffic & Transport Engineering, 11(4), 507-527. https://doi.org/10.7708/ijtte2021.11(4).02

About the author

Leann Delorenzo is no stranger to the aviation industry. A seasoned flight attendant with American Airlines for the last 10 years, she craved more than just witnessing the world from above. While she enjoys travel and customer service, her true passion is for piloting. Unlike many, her dream wasn't fixed-wing aircraft, but the dynamic and challenging world of helicopters. Leann's academic background is impressive. Hailing from New Jersey, she earned a communications degree from Temple University. She then honed her hospitality skills at Walt Disney World in Florida while pursuing a master's in business. Even while learning to fly, Leann's dedication to education continued as she balanced her demanding schedule with a doctorate in business administration. She is also the co-founder of RotorHead Resources, a non-profit organization and community for helicopter pilots.


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1 Comment


Great article. I can see why they have most if not all traits as a helicpter student pilot. Even the negatives are very needed to fly a such complex machine. Thank you for Sharing it.

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