There are a number of reasons why human resource managers at commercial airlines and flight schools engage a psychological assessment bureau to evaluate applicants and employees. First of all, both a psychological examination and an assessment center offer an objective, reliable evaluation tool. Compared to other methods, they have a high predictive value when it comes to making statements about the future performance of employees. 

The job of airline pilot is especially well suited for a professional screening. In particular, the heavy responsibilities that the job entails requires that utmost care be taken in the selection procedure. Think, for instance, of the safety of passengers and crew being at stake.

Moreover, experienced airline pilots will agree that human factors play an increasingly important role in carrying out their duties. Furthermore, automated systems and the technological developments associated with them strongly rely on cooperation and communication among personnel. The human link then still plays a crucial role.

Leadership and communication skills are at least as important as the job’s mechanical and technical aspects. So it is essential to put the right person in the right position.

Most commercial airlines and flight schools are therefore also in agreement that applicants for the position of (ab initio) pilot should be selected based on a psychological examination or assessment procedure. However, other crew members too, such as flight attendants and pursers, have responsible jobs, and they too should be considered for a professional selection procedure.

More generally speaking, in the aviation industry significant risks may be implied when cabin personnel are screened in an unprofessional manner.

There is also an economic necessity for careful selection of airline pilots. After all, training to become a pilot is a costly business. Banks and other financing agents will therefore try to avoid any risk in providing student loans to a pilot in training. Before offering a loan to a potential airline pilot, they will first want to know whether the person being considered has scored positively in a psychological examination and/or assessment center. 

While financing agents in particular attach great value to the findings of an examination, potential flight students also have an interest in participating in a psychological examination or assessment center. After all, before taking on the large loans needed to fund their training, prospective students will want to know whether they have the ability required to successfully complete flight school and at a later stage to perform the job of airline pilot. 

In addition, the psychological examination and assessment center can also be utilized as a professional career development tool. In an appropriate setting our psychologists can sketch an overall picture of the talents and interests that a worker has or does not have.

Based on such a strengths/weaknesses analysis, we can develop a realistic picture of career prospects and offer advice on an appropriate training and/or coaching trajectory. 

Institute for aviation psychology

Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indie 25  
2593 BJ Den Haag

T  +31 (0)70 362 44 00

Herfst & Partners

Het Institute for Aviation Psychology is onderdeel van Herfst & Partners