Ranking Pilots in Aerobatic Flight Competitions

We present initial results of a feasibility study into using rank aggregation methods from Social Choice theory to determine the outcome of aerobatic flying competitions. In such competitions, multiple judges grade individual pilots over a number of aerobatic maneuvers. The judges’ grades are aggregated to determine a final, consensus ranking of the pilots in each competition. The current system in use, based on manipulating the mean of the judges’ grades for each pilot, is complex, opaque and unpopular with many pilots and judges. We present results of applying two popular rank aggregation methods-- the Borda Count and the Kemeny Rule --to data from International Aerobatics Club sanctioned contests flown in 2004. The Kemeny Rule provides a promising, practical solution for determining winners of aerobatics competitions.

By: Andrew Davenport, Douglas Lovell

Published in: RC23631 in 2005


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