It is likely that at this point of your career you have already encountered Pilot Psychological Assessments in the form of Pilot Aptitude Tests prior to commencing training or during an assessment process for your current position.
Pilot aptitude tests are a form of psychometric testing that provide an insight into your suitability for a particular role, by assessing the core pilot competencies set out by ICAO, in addition to any other key areas defined by the organisation you are applying to. Different organisations may also have additional requirements they need to fulfil as part of their selection and assessment process, as well as their own core assessment areas.
Before you join an organisation or if you are moving to another airline or operator, you will likely experience an assessment so the airline or organisation can gain an understanding of your skills, motivation, knowledge, and behaviour to see if you are a suitable fit. This is beneficial for both you and the company, so you can be sure they are the right fit for you as well. It is likely that you will continue to experience aptitude tests throughout your career particularly if you move to a different fleet, upgrade to the LHS or move into a complimentary role such as instructing.
In addition to this, EASA.CAT.GEN.MPA.175, new regulation set by EASA that came into effect February 2021, calls for airlines to ensure all pilots receive a psychometric evaluation within 24 months of employment and in advance of commencing line flying. This means organisations will need to conduct pre-employment psychological assessment of you as a Direct Entry pilot, as part of their hiring processes.
Under EASA, organisations will need to conduct a psychological assessment of pilots, covering at least the four key assessment criteria identified by EASA that pilots must be assessed against in order to be compliant with the new regulation. These are: Cognitive Abilities, Personality Traits, Operational & Professional Competencies and Social Competencies in accordance with Crew Management Principles. The introduction of this regulation will increase the likelihood that you will encounter pilot aptitude tests more and more frequently.
IATA’s Guidance Material and Best Practices in Pilot Aptitude Testing details five dimensions which can be used to assess the key criteria set by EASA in the regulation. These are: basic mental abilities, composite mental abilities, operational abilities, social-interpersonal abilities, and personality traits. This means you will likely be assessed against a number of different criteria which measure the above areas, as well as anything else of particular importance to the organisation; this could therefore look different depending on the specific role or company you are applying to, as the key areas of importance may vary somewhat.
When measuring pilot aptitude, the below dimensions are tested as they directly relate to the ICAO pilot competencies.
1 - English language proficiency
ICAO level 4 is the minimum standard that is acceptable for Pilots. You will need to be able to achieve this in order to be successful in the role.
2 - Composite mental abilities
This covers allocation of attention, multi-tasking, psycho motor abilities and spatial abilities. When looking at aircraft flight path management, manual control, and automation, these abilities are highly relevant.
3 - Social-interpersonal abilities
This includes ability to communicate, ability to operate in a leadership role and teamworking.
4 - Basic mental abilities
This includes looking at memory capacity, speed and accuracy, information processing, spatial abilities, technical comprehension, reasoning, logic, and long-term concentration.
5 - Operational Abilities
This includes decision making, problem solving, workload management and situational awareness.
6 - Personality Traits
These are measured to look at professionalism, safety, motivation, stress-coping, information load, time pressure and application of procedures and compliance with regulations.
There is a good chance that at this point of your career you will already have completed pilot aptitude tests. If you are a newly qualified pilot applying for your first job you are likely to have completed aptitude tests prior to being accepted into a flight school and if you are an experienced pilot, it is likely that you have already had exposure to pilot aptitude testing throughout your career when moving to different organisations.
Though the specific tests you have been exposed to may vary between organisations and at different stages of your career, the principles for completing them should remain the same. You will likely be given additional information and instructions before you start the tests, and/or during the test itself, to help you understand what is expected of you. Organisations will usually provide you with information on what you will be required to complete at the different stages of the assessment process, so take the time to familiarise yourself with what to expect here.
The tests themselves might require you to answer questions about yourself and your preferences, indicate how you would respond to a given scenario, complete a practical task or respond to knowledge-based questions, often within a specified time-limit; you can find examples and practice questions online to support you with further familiarising yourself if you are planning on preparing ahead of the real assessment. It is also recommended to be as open and honest as possible in your responses to ensure the tests are an accurate representation of you.
If you are having to take a pilot aptitude assessment at some point in the future, we recommend taking a practice assessment to help familiarise yourself with what to expect from the assessment and help to reduce test anxiety.
Symbiotics are a human performance organisation with expertise in high-risk, high-consequence industries and have provided assessment, selection, and consultancy services to 58 countries across 5 continents, working with a range of organisations in the aviation sector including airlines, air forces, business jet operators and flight training organisations.
Our online selection and assessment tool, ADAPT, provides an easy-to-use software interface for pilot aptitude testing, with comprehensive reporting across all of our assessments. We offer a range of aptitude tests, assessments, and services, including bespoke test design, that have been created to measure competence across all levels of candidates. ADAPT offers a detailed breakdown of a candidates’ personality and aptitude as well as their suitability for either the training or operational pipeline, providing a prediction of how the candidate may perform in a specific organisational or training culture to support operators in making informed hiring decisions.
Symbiotics are experts in the selection of people who can deliver in industries associated with high risk, stress, or consequence environments with a focus on aviation. Our purpose as a global assessment provider is to collaborate with clients to deliver robust and reliable solutions for assessment and selection.
Symbiotics’ specialise in aviation, particularly commercial aviation, training organisations, air forces and business jet operators. We offer bespoke pre-screening and assessment for Pilots, Cabin Crew, Maintenance Engineers, Dispatchers and Airline Management as well as developmental feedback and assessment for transitional roles such as Command Upgrades. We offer a range of aptitude tests, assessments, and services, including bespoke test design, that are designed to measure competence across all levels of candidates. In addition to selection and assessment, Symbiotics also offer developmental assessments for candidates and a range of training services for clients.
Our ADAPT platform hosts our suite of online selection and assessment tools, which involve the full range of tests and questionnaires to measure the key skills required for a pilot. ADAPT is our online assessment and reporting platform that delivers our psychometric and aptitude tests and provides report outputs to the organisation. As a candidate, you can undertake practice versions of each individual test of the assessment one at a time and over several sessions if required.
Our assessments are designed to measure your skills and aptitudes including Psychomotor, Cognitive, Problem Solving and Decision-Making skills. Our behavioural assessments, including the ADAPT Personality Questionnaire, are designed to assess your psychological profile, suitability for the training as well as your motivation, pressure management and coping strategies. Added to this is FAST, which measures physical and cognitive skills in a demanding multi-tasking exercise and our Co-ordination and Fixed Wing tests. We also offer assessments that look to understand your CRM skills and preferences as well as knowledge-based tests around Aviation specifically.
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