Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research





Key words

stall awareness, startle, pilot, amygdala hijack, situation awareness


Failing to identify an aerodynamic stall can lead to the inability of an aircraft to sustain flight. To warn pilots of an impending or fully-developed stall, many aircraft have safety devices installed to provide visual, aural, and/or kinesthetic (haptic) indicators of the potentially unsafe situation. The stick shaker is one such warning device. Amygdala hijack is the disruptive emotional, physiological, and cognitive response that occurs as a result of stimulus. Colloquially known as a fight-or-flight trigger, amygdala hijack can cause a person to freeze-in-place or can disrupt cognitive function to the point where the person can no longer process available information or introduce corrective action. The stall warning system has the potential to be a startling and violent form of crew awareness that can unintentionally induce a fight-or-flight startle response. This analysis suggests additional research should be conducted specifically with potentially disruptive warning systems compared with a startle effect.

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