The effect of Energy Drink Consumption on Collegiate Flight Students’ Pilot Skills in a Simulated Flight Environment

# Introduction

Bliss, Depperschmidy and Woolsey carried out research into the effects of energy drink consumptions on collegiate flight students in simulated flight in 2010. 30 students of varying age group and flight experience were selected for this research. Over the course of two weeks each participant was given either drink, an energy drink and a placebo, before two separate test sessions. Each test session measured the participants ability to maneuver a plane in Straight and Level Flight, Complex Turns as well as the efficiency level to complete a check list during an In-Flight Emergency. Thus the application of the null hypothesis: The consumption of energy drinks has no significant effect on collegiate flight student's pilots skills.

# Results

Table 1: Straight and Level Flight
Total Points Mean Points Standard Deviation t-value sig.
Energy Drink 1600 53.33 27.42 -5.721 0.00
Placebo 947 31.57 22.59 -5.721 0.00

By using a paired sample t test where t(30) = -5.721 with sig = 0.00 at the .05 significance level, the resulting p = 0.6539. Thus the null hypothesis for effect of consumption of energy drinks of student's pilot skills at Straight and Level Flight was rejected.

Table 2: Complex Turn
Average time to complete Complex Turn Standard Deviation t-value sig. Average time taken to achieve Straight and Level Flight Standard Deviation t-value sig.
Energy Drink 79.5 seconds 6.15 7.33 0.00 88.73 seconds 42.43 -.834 .411
Placebo 99.2 seconds 9.08 7.33 0.00 79.96 seconds 43.85 -.834 .411

By using a paired paired sample t test for the average time to complete Complex Turn where t(30) = -7.33 with sig = 0.00 at the .05 significance level, it suggested statistical significance. However, using the paired sample t test for the average time to achieve Straight and Level Flight after a Complex Turn where t(30) = -.834 with sig = .411 at a 0.5 significance level was not statistically significant. Thus the null hypothesis was not rejected for this researched segment of Complex Turn flight.

Table 3: In-Flight Emergency Checklist Accuracy
Average Accurate complete steps Standard Deviation (for average steps) t-value sig. Average Seconds to complete Checklist Standard Deviation (for average time) t-value sig.
Energy Drink 4.53 steps 1.16 .909 .371 52.16 secs 23.73 -1.16 .253
Placebo 4.76 steps .626 .909 .371 46.56 secs 15.86 -1.16 .253

By using a paired paired sample t test for the average time to complete the In-Flight Emergency Checklist where t(30) = -1.167 with sig = 0.253 at the .05 significance level, the results were not statistically significant. Thus the null hypothesis for this segment of flight was not rejected.

Therefore, as proved by this research and the results as above, collegiate flight students skills were reduced after consuming energy drinks.

# Methods

### Research approach

Exploratory study into the effects of energy drinks on student pilot's flying skills.

### Sample

30 collegiate flight students from Oklahoma State University majoring to be a Professional Pilot. 7% of the participants were Freshmen, 20% Sophomore, 40% Juniors and 33% Senior collegiate students. Just over half the of the participating students (53%) had flown 149 or few hours, whereas, 47% had logged more than 150 flying hours.

### Design

The study was done to explore the effects of energy drinks on students pilots flying skills over three distinct areas. The student's accurate completion of Straight and Level Flight, Complex Turns and In-Flight Emergencies were measured both after consuming an energy drink and a placebo. This was done over two different sessions within a two week timeframe. The students flying skills were tested on a flight simulator to allow for accurate and unforeseen circumstance such as weather.

### Variables

Straight and Level flight
Students were measured on their ability to hold a fixed altitude, directional heading as well maintain a constant airspeed. For every level of inaccuracy, each participant was awarded a point penalty.

Complex Turns
Students were measured on their ability to simultaneously change altitude, directional heading and maintain a required airspeed while making a complex turn, before returning to the original altitude, directional heading and constant airspeed in the Straight and Level flight segment. Each participant was measured in seconds, the time taken to complete these procedures.

In-Flight Emergencies
Students were measured on their ability to identify and complete a given checklist after identifying the emergency presented to them. Each participant was measured by both the number of correct steps taken in the emergency as well as time taken to complete the checklist.

### Data analysis

A paired sample t test was conducted at 0.5 significance level for each of the three tested areas (Straight and Level flight, Complex Turns and In-Flight Emergencies), to determine if the two sets of data are significantly different from each other and has a valued specified in the null hypothesis.

### Generalization potential

DEPPERSCHMIDT Chad L, Timm J BLISS & Conrad L WOOLSEY (2010). The effect of energy drink consumption on collegiate flight students' pilot skills in a simulated flight environment. Collegiate Aviation Review (ISSN 1523-5955), 2010, volume 28, number 2, pages 1-15.

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