So far we have published articles that differed greatly from aviation psychology and coaching in aviation. We have written of topics that fall more into one or the other category. Now we want to understand what really sets them apart, this will serve us better in the future to see what, in fact, they have in common.

This article is not intended to show if one of the two areas is better than the other. It is not a competition, but an analysis of the differences!

Aviation Psychology studies humans and there cognitive processes, actions and behavior in aviation and space, considering cultural aspects too. It applies work and organizational psychology, social psychology and clinical psychology.

Coaching is a method applied to Pilots, Aviation Companies, Management Airlines ground staff  and flight instructors. It applies the existing methods of Executive Coaching, Business Coaching and Life Coaching. Its founding principles are to be found in Positive Psychology and Aviation Psychology.

As you can see coaching derives from aviation psychology. They are integrated, linked to each other only for the simple fact that both study humans and try to improve their condition.

The first difference that we see within the two is that aviation psychology studies humans at work, and consider only a small part of a persons private life, but does not process it as thoroughly as in coaching.

To clarify better … If you are considering a stressed pilot, that made an error or was victim of an accident and we can identify as a cause of his stress the divorce with his wife, then we are also considering his private life and not just his work life.

But it is a simple example. Much more often it happens to consider privacy when it comes to coaching. But we’ll see in another article, what are a persons Positive qualities and how by improving them you will achieve many more goals in life.

So, the first major difference is that coaching is not limited to psychological constructs, but its method incorporates also private life, aiming to go form a condition of:

private life vs. work life

to a condition of:

private life + work life

The two elements are always distinct, but within the same system.

Coaching method is defined precisely as a method and not a technique or a tool. Said that, it is means that within coaching there are techniques and tools that the coach uses in his programe.

What is the difference between Aviation Psychology and Aviation Coaching?

In Aviation Psychology a specific phenomenon is either associated to a theory or new research is brought out to explain that phenomenon.

In fact, many pilots who study human factors or facilitators programs have a strong limit: they always ask me to give them new material so that they can enrich with new elements their work with the crews .

Coaching on the other hand, has techniques that the coach can use in a coaching programe: for example, he can analyze the obstacles that a captain has in his leadership skills.

What coaching does not do is research. There are psychologists who study phenomenans which then they associate with coaching, but basically the coach is an operator, less theoretical (even if the theory is crucial for him), he is more operational, practical and pragmatic.

Pragmatism is another big difference. In coaching immediate results are obtained.

As mentioned at the beginning, we did a comparison between the two worlds, but only exalted some differences. The articles that follow will be a number of examples of application of coaching in aviation, on pilots, management, flight instructors, etc..