Effects of Low Blood Alcohol Levels On Pilots’ Prioritization of Tasks During a Radio Navigation Task

  • Smith F
  • Harris D
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Abstract

Eight pilots flew a specified cross-country route using radio navigation in a flight simulator with simulated air traffic control. Four of the pilots flew with a low blood alcohol level (BAL; mean BAL = 20.63 mg%). Pilots' performance was compared in terms of flying performance, navigation, and radio communi- cation. We hypothesized that the tasks most likely to be shed as a result of alcohol impairment would be those lower down in the task prioritization hierar- chy of "aviate, navigate and communicate." This hypothesis was supported; alcohol was found to impair significantly pilots' radio communication. Results are discussed with reference to the piloting task and the implications for alcohol regulation in aviation.

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