General Aviation Pilots Transition to Advanced Cockpit Technologies and Adult Learning

John A. Kolmos


Pilots for many years have received training on the round instrument gauges. Can they now safely make the transfer to the new cockpit technologies? Studies show a cognitive deficit with pilots over the age of 40 making transitions to these advanced cockpits. Older pilots as well as older adult learners in general absorb and retain information differently than our younger counterparts. The training and instructional programs are now geared towards a one size fits all. According to the literature, problems seem to surface affecting older pilots. This article addresses these concerns.

Full Text:



AOPA Air Safety Foundation, (2007). “Technically advanced aircraft safety and training”. Retrieved from

Bednar, A. K., Cunningham, D., Duffy T. M. & Perry J. D. (1995). Theory into Practice: How do we Link? In G. J. Anglin (Ed), Instructional Technology: Past, present and future. Englewood, Co: Libraries Unlimited, pp 100-112.

Bloom, B. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: David McKay Co.Inc

Broady, T., Chan, A., & Caputi, P. (2010). Comparison of older and younger adults‘ attitudes towards and abilities with computers: Implications for training and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology , 41 (3), 473-485.

Brown, A. L. (1987). Metacognition, executive control, self-regulation, and other more mysterious mechanisms. In F. Weinhart & R. Kluwe (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 65-116). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

FAA. (2003). FAA-Industry Training Standards (FITS) Program Plan. Oklahoma City,OK: Department of Transportation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office

Hackbarth, S. (1996).The Educational Technology Handbook. New Jersey: Englewood cliffs.

Hamblin, C. J., Gilmore, C., & Chaparro, A. (2006). Learning to fly glass flightdecks requires a new cognitive model. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50th Annual Meeting, 1977-1981.

Harada, E., Mori, K., & Taniue, N. (2010). Cognitive aging and the usability of IT based equipment: Learning is the key. Japanese Psychological Research, 52 (3), 227-243.

Henschke, J. A. (2009). Beginnings of the history and philosophy of andragogy 1833-2000. In V. Wang (Ed.), Integrating adult learning and technology for effective education: Strategic approaches. Hersey, PA: IGI Global.

Hogan, K., & Pressley, M. (1997). Scaffolding student learning: Instructional approaches and issues. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.

Homko, C. J. (2011). The effects of age and recency of experience on the completion of complex tasks in a Technically advanced aircraft.(Master's thesis, Purdue University), Available from ProQuest. (1501836).

Kearns, S. K. (2010). E-learning in aviation. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Kennedy, Q., Taylor, J. L., Reade, G., & Yesavage, J. A. (2010). Age and expertise effects in aviation decision making and flight control in a flight simulator. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 81(5), 489-497.

Kirschner, P. A.; Sweller, J.; Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist 41 (2): 75–86.doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4102.

Knowles, M. S. (1950). Informal adult education: A guide for administrators, leaders, and teachers. New York: Association Press.

Knowles, M. S. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Loyens, S. M., M., Rikers, R. M., J., P., & Schmidt, H. G. (2008). Relationships between students' conceptions of constructivist learning and their regulation and processing strategies. Instructional Science, 36(5-6), 445-462. doi:

Mayer, R. (2004). Should there be a three-strikes rule against pure discovery learning? The case for guided methods of instruction. American Psychologist 59 (1): 14–19. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.59.1.14.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. (3rd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mitchell, C. M., Chappell, A.R., Gray, W.M., Thurman, D.A., & Quinn, A.B. (2001). Intelligent tutors for aviation automation mitigating the problem”. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics society 45th Annual Meeting – 2001.

O'Hare, D., Owen, D. (2001). “The 'where' and the 'why' of cross-country vfr crashes: database and simulation analyses”. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 45th Annual Meeting-2001, 78-81.

Pressley, M., Wood, E., Martin, V. E., King, A., & Menke, D. (1992). Encouraging mindful use of prior knowledge: Attempting to construct explanatory answers facilitates learning. Educational Psychologist, 27(1), 91-109.

Skinner, B.F., (1968). The Design of Experimental Communities. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Volume 16). New York: Macmillan, 1968, pages 271-275.

Summers, M., Ayers, F., Connolly, T., & Robertson, C. (2007). Managing risk through scenario based training, single pilot resource management, and learner centered grading. Retrieved from

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science 12 (1): 257–285. doi:10.1016/0364-0213(88)90023-7.

TAA Safety Study Team Federal Aviation Administration, (2003, August 22). General aviation technically advanced aircraft FAA-industry safety study. Retrieved from

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Watkins, K. E., & Marsick, V. J. (2014). Adult education & human resource development: Overlapping and disparate fields. New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, 26(1), 42-54. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.