356 Using an Interdisciplinary Approach to Assess General Aviation Pilot Weather Knowledge

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Thomas A. Guinn, Embry–Riddle Aeronatical Univ., Daytona Beach, FL; and N. DeFilippis, J. M. Lanicci, Y. Ortiz, J. M. King, R. L. Thomas, and E. L. Blickensderfer

While numerous research studies have been accomplished to determine the general aviation (GA) pilot community’s level of weather knowledge, none have used a comprehensive weather knowledge exam developed by an interdisciplinary team. To meet this challenge, we developed and administered an exam designed to evaluate the GA pilot community’s level of knowledge on weather concepts and phenomena, weather product interpretation, and weather product sources. Our research team included subject matter experts with experience in meteorology, flight instruction, and human factors psychology. More specifically, our team consisted of two Ph.D. meteorologists, two Ph.D. human factors specialists, a Gold Seal flight instructor (CFII), and two graduate students in human factors psychology. Together we developed a total of 95 multiple-choice exam questions based on existing FAA guidance. All team members reviewed the questions in a group setting to ensure they were accurate, stated clearly, and had varying levels of difficulty, and to assess content validity, four external reviewers with aviation weather experience also reviewed the questions.

To determine the psychometric integrity of the 95 questions, two human factors graduate students gave the exam along with a demographic survey to 204 GA pilots of varying skill/certification levels. These included 134 Aeronautical Science students from a southeastern university plus an additional 70 participants attending the 2016 EEA AirVenture Oshkosh, WI.

The purpose of this presentation is to present the preliminary analysis of the results stemming from the 70 Oshkosh participants, which included: 14 student pilots, 26 private pilots, 15 private pilots with instrument, and 15 commercial pilots with instrument. The results indicate that the questions had varying degrees of difficulty, high internal consistency and discriminated between pilots with different skill/certification levels.

Specifically, the initial results indicate that while the exam score means increased with rating, the only statistically significant difference occurred between the commercial certified instrument pilot group and the student pilot group. No statistically significant differences were found between the other certification level groups. Initial results also indicate that all pilot groups scored significantly higher on flight planning and weather source questions, and significantly lower on weather forecast and observation product interpretation questions.

In addition to detailed exam results, the presentation will also discuss some of the challenges experienced while developing the questions, such as product guidance not keeping pace with the products available on-line, as well as suggestions for improving weather guidance for pilots.

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