Managing startle and surprise in the cockpit

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

1799 Downloads (Pure)


After several recent flight safety events, such as the accident of Air France flight 447 in 2009, investigators determined that surprise and startle can severely disrupt pilot responses. They concluded that pilots need to be better prepared for unexpected and potentially startling situations. In response, aviation safety authorities have recommended and mandated that startle and surprise should receive more attention in pilot training. However, there is insufficient scientific data available on pilots’ behavior in startling and surprising situations, and on how they can best be trained for these situations. This thesis addresses this problem, by studying startle and surprise in pilots, and by investigating which training interventions can strengthen the pilots’ response to unexpected situations...
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van Paassen, M.M., Supervisor
  • Groen, Eric L., Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date4 Sep 2019
Print ISBNs978-94-6182-963-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aviation
  • Mental models
  • Performance
  • Pilots
  • Resilience
  • Simulation
  • Stress
  • Training
  • Upset recovery


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