Original Research

Fluid intellingence and spatial reasoning as predictors of pilot training performance in the South African Air Force (SAAF)

François de Kock, Anton Schlechter
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 35, No 1 | a753 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v35i1.753 | © 2009 François de Kock, Anton Schlechter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 October 2008 | Published: 30 April 2009

About the author(s)

François de Kock, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Anton Schlechter, Section for Organisational Psychology, School of Management Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Full Text:



Pilot selection is a form of high-stakes selection due to the massive costs of training, high trainee ability requirements and costly repercussions of poor selection decisions. This criterion-related validation study investigated the predictive ability of fluid intelligence and spatial reasoning in predicting three criteria of pilot training performance, using an accumulated sample of South African Air Force pilots (N = 108). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses with training grade achieved as criterion were performed for each of the phases of training, namely practical flight training, ground school training, and officers’ formative training. Multiple correlations of 0.35 (p < 0.01), 0.20 (p > 0.05) and 0.23 (p > 0.05) were obtained for flight, ground school and formative training results, respectively. Spatial ability had incremental validity over fluid intelligence for predicting flight training performance.


pilot selection; flight training; intelligence; spatial ability; incremental validity


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