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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 35

How do the airlines expect to prevent commercial plane crashes? Studies have shown that pilot error contributes to two-thirds of all such crashes. To address this problem, the airlines have upgraded their training programs by increasing the hours of classroom instruction and emphasizing communication skills in the cockpit. But it is unrealistic to expect such measures to compensate for pilots' lack of actual flying time. Therefore, the airlines should rethink their training approach to reducing commercial crashes.

Which one of the following is an assumption upon which the argument depends?

[A]. Training programs can eliminate pilot errors.
[B]. Commercial pilots routinely undergo additional training throughout their careers.
[C]. The number of airline crashes will decrease if pilot training programs focus on increasing actual flying time.
[D]. Lack of actual flying time is an important contributor to pilot error in commercial plane crashes.
[E]. Communication skills are not important to pilot training programs.
Answer: D

The author believes that if airlines want to cut down on pilot errors, they should change their training to include more actual flying time. However, what if (D) is false, and the lack of flying time is not an important factor in plane crashes? In that case, it would seem pretty silly to emphasize flying time in training. So, if (D) is false, the author’s entire argument would fall apart, which means that (D) must be a necessary assumption.

(A) Use the Denial Test to eliminate wrong answers, too. Suppose that training programs cannot completely eliminate pilot errors. Could training programs with beefed-up actual flight time still be a good idea? Sure, and so (A) is not necessary to the argument.

(B) is irrelevant. The author makes a claim about how airlines ought to design their training. What airlines actually do regarding “additional training” has no bearing on this point.

(C) doesn’t address the author’s argument, which concerns the relationship of actual flying time to pilot error. The relationship of pilot error to crashes is another question.

(E) Suppose that communication skills are important. Does that mean that they are more important than flight time, or that training should not be re-designed to emphasize flight time? No, and so (E) is not necessary, either.

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