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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Human Factors & Resilience

In Aviation! 

This week I learned that in 2016 the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) mandated resilience training for pilots in response to the German Wings crash. I would love to learn more about this type of training, in that I had always thought resilience was a natural tendency. Either you were, or you weren't. However, it makes sense that we could teach resilience as that the process could be similar to teaching people how to deal appropriately with stress. 

Gitte Furdal Damm, pilot and human factors expert wrote an interesting article on resilience. She states...

"Resilience is a psychological term that came about in the 1970s. Psychologists working with dysfunctional families found that siblings are able to develop differently despite coming from the same background with identical conditions. While one of the siblings would follow the pattern of their parents, the other would somehow break the pattern and create a better life. This sibling would be what is called resilient.

Though it seems that there are different ways of defining resilience, my approach to resilience development is based upon this definition: “Showing the ability to successfully navigate high levels of challenge and change, and to bounce back after stressful or traumatic events.”

After many years of talking about stress management, resilience might be the new term used for pilots to cope in an industry that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Resilience implies being prepared not only for what you are trained but also for unexpected (black swan) events. We don´t really know exactly how we will respond or, in other words, how resilient we are, until it happens. Research actually shows that people are more resilient than they think when faced with adversity."

How Resilient are You?

Do you think resiliency is an necessary skill for a pilot? Perhaps in our current world anyone who could learn to be more resilient would benefit. 

To read Gitte's complete article click the following link: 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Karlene, thank you for posting on this topic. Resiliency is crucial for jobs where one has responsibility on their shoulders for lives of one or many people - especially life or death. Within the past year, I've attended resiliency trainings. One of them, we were asked to make a list of jobs we all thought would have the highest stress rates. The top two I listed were a commercial airline pilot and an Air Traffic controller.

    When life or death of others is in our hands and we are caught in stressful situations, the impact it each situation makes on ourselves is paramount.

    I am blessed knowing that there are companies out there that have special employee assistance programs which implement Resiliency Training because they believe in their employees and know their potential and talent.

    Once again, thank you for sharing this message and promoting it. I urge everyone with a stressful job, to please take at least one training in resilience. It will give you the keys to personal health all around.

    Thank you, again!!

    1. Jeremy, I would love to know more about how they are training for resiliency. I find it fascinating that Europe authorities have identified this as a necessity, as it should be. But the FAA has not. Unless I missed this someplace. But, what an important next step to CRM. Thanks for your comment!!

  2. Hi Karlene, nice article! Resilience is indeed includes in the EASA list of training subjects to be covered during initial crm training and during the three-year cycle of topics to be covered in recurrent training. It is a fairly new topic but might be one the single most important personality features for a pilot. We could say, even though it sounds contradictice at first that resilience is the base of a stable personality. I used videos of sydney dekker in my human factors training. He draws a parallel with how businesses could become more resilient: not taking past successes as a guarantee for the future, preparedess for the unexpected. I am however still looking for good books/publications/papers on the subject.


    1. Pieter, I'm thinking that this is going to be the first book that Dr. Petitt writes (after I finish school). If you have anything with training you can send my way, and requirements, I would love it. Email to

      So, I just searched books on resilience on Amazon. Many. Then typed top ten books on resilience. Then I started reading the 1 and 2 star comments and not impressed. I will do a deeper search and see if I can find something. But we should have something specific for pilots. Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Just read your post regarding resiliency. The USAF has had resiliency training for several years now and in my opinion, has been very effective. They begin with briefing the four pillars of physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of resiliency, then those pillars are expanded on with suggestions and contemplative scenarios. The suicide rate has been very high in the military and while I’m not aware if this training has decreased the rate or not, I sincerely feel that it has helped some that may have never been exposed to these ideas. It’s all about the foundation.

    Thank you for researching this and raising awareness!


    1. Barry, It's great to know that the USAF is conducting this training. I'm thinking we should make this an FAA requirement for airlines. We teach about fatigue...but that's something we can't do a lot about depending upon scheduling. However, teaching people coping skills is essential! Thank you so much for your comment, and the inspiration for something that should be changed.


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