In the field of aviation, human operators are the most crucial factor in ensuring safety: on the one hand, they increase the reliability of technical systems as they can recognize technical malfunctions; on the other hand human errors are one of the biggest risks in aviation.
70 % of accidents in aviation are caused by the erratic behaviour of operators. Accidents are more commonly caused by inadequate communication and co-operation as well as unsystematic decision-making than, for example, by weather or technical failures. It has been proven that a large number of crashes in aviation could be avoided by improved team work and decision making.
Finally, operators are responsible for ensuring flight safety: the latest technology in aviation is only as reliable as the humans who operate it. Different personality criteria alongside classical cognitive, sensory and psychometric skills play a decisive role in ensuring the reliability of pilots and air traffic controllers.
The department, based in Hamburg, conducts research into the human factors which affect safety in aviation with the purpose of increasing the capability of operators and ensuring the highest level of reliability. First and foremost, our research ensures increased safety in aviation. Furthermore, airlines and air traffic control organisations profit from economic advantages, as excellently evaluated personnel reduce training costs. Such operators will additionally be equipped to cope with the demands of their profession both now and in the future.
The data from our precisely designed performance and personality tests, collected from over 200,000 applicants, provide a unique basis for scientific research. Unlike other, classical methods of evaluation, our carefully developed assessment centre methods involve a holistic simulation which enables the assessment of personality diagnostics; the attitude of applicants can be directly observed and assessed during the given scenarios.
Furthermore, a system of optimal communication and co-operation for intercultural teams has been developed, and internationally applicable selection test batteries have been designed. For this, the institute has established innovative methods in its testing centre in Hamburg as well as in Switzerland, Indonesia, Jordan und Turkey. All research is conducted in close co-operation with airlines, air traffic control companies and space organizations.
As a result of this research and the excellent standards under which it is conducted, the DLR department of aviation and space psychology has developed into one of the leading research centres in the area of aviation and space psychology. Annually, more than 10,000 psychological aptitude tests are conducted in its test centres worldwide. To date, all European selection campaigns for astronauts were carried out by the DLR department of aviation and space psychology.