Could you pass the airline pilot test?

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 04 April 2015 | 20.01

Investigators find evidence that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz researched suicide methods and cockpit door technology in the days before Flight 9525's crash. Criminal justice professor Adam Lankford explains why some suicides end in murder. Photo: AP

Mass killer ... accused co-pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 Andreas Lubitz. Picture: AFP Source: Supplied

A PSYCHOMETRIC test designed to gauge a person's suitability to become a pilot is part of an eight-stage process commercial airline candidates must pass to be successful.

Questions about ethics, leadership, teamwork, friendships and stress management dominate the test used by airlines worldwide.

The way a person answers one question influences the following question, in a process designed to reveal a candidate's "true self".

According to pilots and airline insiders, the tests are considered lie-proof and are subject to continual refinement.

Psychometric testing ... what answer would you choose? Source: Supplied

Pilot recruitment coach Kirsty Ferguson from Pinstripe Solutions, said there was only so much preparation one could do for a personality test which was marked on an international basis.

"(Test designers) are always improving the level of questions that they ask and what those questions mean," said Ms Ferguson.

"They're generally designed to judge how a person is going to behave in a cockpit."

In addition to the psychometric test, candidates are required to undergo a panel interview before a psychologist, airline captain and human resources specialist.

Telling test ... questions reveal more about the candidate. Source: Supplied

"All airlines are upgrading their level of recruitment to cover even more aspects of testing. It's not just based on psychometric tests and aptitude," Ms Ferguson said.

New phases recently added by airlines like Qantas and Virgin Australia include a telephone interview, in addition to the online application and panel interview, a group exercise and aptitude testing.

Simple questions ... with greater behavioural implications. Source: Supplied

The aptitude testing covers nine areas including control, mathematics, memory, multi-tasking, motor skills, spatial perception and orientation, a technical test, aviation English and verbal comprehension.

Subjective questions ... can be limited in what they reveal about a person. Source: Supplied

Applicants must also hold a Class 1 Medical certificate ruling them 100 per cent fit for the job.

"If they have any sort of query on their medical, their application won't even be considered," Ms Ferguson said.

The testing of pilots has been firmly in the spotlight in the wake of the March 24 Germanwings' crash in which co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew a packed A320 into a mountain.

He had previously taken time off from pilot training due to a serious depressive episode but passed all tests when he re-entered the program conducted by Lufthansa.

Lookiing within ... personality tests are popular. Source: Supplied

Australian and International Pilots Association president Nathan Safe said they were happy with recruitment standards and were keen to be part of any review of ongoing medical tests for pilots.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has indicated the government is keen to look at making psychological testing a bigger part of the annual medicals pilots must undergo.

Mr Safe said the focus should be on rehabilitating people who might experience mental health issues.

"We don't want pilots spending a day every week on the psychiatrist's lounge," said Mr Safe.

"We want to see details of whatever is proposed and ensure the focus is on support and rehabilitation rather than stigmatisation and isolation."


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