Situation Awareness

Although not shown explicitly in an earlier figure, the process of attention, perception and judgement should result in awareness of the current situation.

Situation awareness is the synthesis of an accurate and up-to-date ‘mental model’ of one’s environment and state, and the ability to use this to make predictions of possible future states.

Situation awareness, in the context of the flight deck, describes the pilot’s awareness of what is going on around him, e.g. where he is geographically, his orientation in space, what mode the aircraft is in, etc. It refers to:

  • The perception of important elements, e.g. seeing a low oil pressure indication.
  • The comprehension of their meaning, e.g. Is there a leak? Is it a faulty indication?
  • The projection of their status into the future, e.g. Does this require a diversion?

As with decision making, feedback improves situation awareness by informing us of the accuracy of our mental models and their predictive power.