Prioritizing Tasks in the Cockpit: A Review of Cognitive Processing Models, Methods of Dealing with Cognitive Limitations, and Training Strategies

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Amy L. Hoover


Pilots must continuously assess, prioritize, execute, monitor, and terminate tasks to the best of their ability to safely and effectively complete the flight mission, often in time critical situations and in a dynamic environment. Limitations on pilot abilities to multitask are related to many factors described in the literature. To better understand and manage those limitations cognitive processes, such as single channel theory, multiple channel theory, and multiple resource theory are identified and related to cognitive limitations. Methods pilots use to deal with those cognitive limitations, including attention management, workload management, and task management are explored. Results from task prioritization specific training studies indicate multitasking may be trainable. Outcomes from studies reviewed can be used to inform design and implementation of training curricula. Some strategies for design and implementation of task prioritization training are presented.

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