Game Theoretic Modeling of Pilot Behavior During Mid-Air Encounters

38 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2011 Last revised: 13 Apr 2011

See all articles by Ritchie Lee

Ritchie Lee

Carnegie Mellon University

David Wolpert

Santa Fe Institute

Date Written: March 26, 2011


We show how to combine Bayes nets and game theory to predict the behavior of hybrid systems involving both humans and automated components. We call this novel framework “Semi Network-Form Games,” and illustrate it by predicting aircraft pilot behavior in potential near mid-air collisions. At present, at the beginning of such potential collisions, a collision avoidance system in the aircraft cockpit advises the pilots what to do to avoid the collision. However studies of midair encounters have found wide variability in pilot responses to avoidance system advisories. In particular, pilots rarely perfectly execute the recommended maneuvers, despite the fact that the collision avoidance system’s effectiveness relies on their doing so. Rather pilots decide their actions based on all information available to them (advisory, instrument readings, visual observations). We show how to build this aspect into a semi network-form game model of the encounter and then present computational simulations of the resultant model.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Ritchie and Wolpert, David, Game Theoretic Modeling of Pilot Behavior During Mid-Air Encounters (March 26, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Ritchie Lee (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
408-905-6178 (Phone)

David Wolpert

Santa Fe Institute ( email )

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 897501
United States

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