It was mentioned last month that in the General Aviation sector, not enough emphasis is placed on the way pilots think and therefore ultimately behave and that this is at the crux of aviation safety.
Which brings us to ATTITUDE.
We are all different and have been raised in and exposed to very many varying ways and conditions. Therefore there are a multitude of diversified meanings as to what is normal and what is not. For example if we were brought up in an aggressive environment then this becomes a norm and so we will probably react in an aggressive manner when faced with what are‘perceived‘ as confrontational situations.
On the other hand if our frame of reference is one of tranquillity and being well organized we are likely to reject any form of aggressive or untoward behavior and rather walk away from the situation and then perhaps instead analyze it and form a more workable solution.
If our frame of reference is one of always being the under-dog then we might have a strong need to prove otherwise – need to feed the ego.
As we have discussed frequently, accidents and incidences involving the operation of aircraft are seldom caused by a single event but usually are as a result of a chain of events or sequence of errors. This chain is often referred to as the:
POOR JUDGEMENT CHAIN – P.J.C
Some tips for surviving ‘PJC’ The prime strategy is to detect ‘PJC’ and break the chain as early as possible.
· Does the sortie that I have undertaken to perform fall within recommended practice and legal requirements and also within my level of experience and competency?
· Have I carefully assessed all of the possible threats to the flight and action required?
· How could the involvement of other persons affect the safety of the flight?
· Have I thoroughly planned for the flight and built in contingencies and alternative options.
· Return to start if you are not satisfied that all aircraft indications and systems checks are not in order – what might be perceived as a small snag on the ground can quickly change into a big problem once airborne.
· If you make an in flight error, admit it to yourself, don’t dwell on it but put it behind you and proceed forward by applying well founded corrective action. For example if you make a mistake or error with ATC do not carry this further into the flight – fix it –carrying emotional issues forward can cloud further good judgment!
· Be honest and admit all errors to yourself and ATC. Do not go into denial or allow your ego to interfere! Put it behind you and continue to fly safely.
· Obtain feed back and seek advice and assistance if available from ATC, other crew member etc.
· Assess time available in terms of fuel endurance, height, daylight remaining etc. and make a rational decision – don’t let opportunities slide past!
· Identify and verify the problem – engage in problem solving. Don’t jump to a pre-conceived idea.
· Cross Check and Question! Take nothing for granted – complacency is an evil mindset.
· Always keep a back door open – options!
· Return to known point, start again e.g. execute a go around or missed approach & rejoin – land at en route aerodrome or alternative destination – do not press on. I.F. re-enter the hold – climb back to MSA. etc. Go back to a safe place.
· Check for stress – levels of ambiguity & conflict etc.
· Declare emergency- worry about the paper work and pride later – many accidents could have been prevented if only an emergency was declared
· Review applicable emergency procedures.
· Search for other poor judgments, more might exist.
· Review the poor judgment & learn from the experience and share it with others!
NOW THAT THE WORDS ‘SITUATIONAL AWARENESS’ HAVE POPPED UP FREQUENTLY let’s have a chat on this.
Situational Awareness in flight, equates to the ‘true perception’ of the dynamic flight situation!
In order to make ‘Good Judgment Calls’ we need to be acutely aware of what is going on around us and in our environment before and during flight!
· Position in relationship to terrain in terms of height, direction and whereabouts.
· Terrain form and proximity.
· Navigation. Am I on track, how’s my ETA looking? Headwind – tailwind?
· 3 – D orientation.
· Aircraft flight-path / trajectory. Where are we pointing the aircraft and at what speed and direction? Remember flight is a dynamic situation!
· What is my ATC Clearance? Does it make sense? What Clearance has ATC given other aircraft – do these make sense?
· Where are the other aircraft? Aircraft type – closing speed?
· How is the weather changing? Thunderstorms – freezing level -Continue or divert?
· How is the time doing? (how much is available, how quickly is it passing etc.).
· Fuel status management and contingencies.
· Navaids functioning properly – beacons identified?
· Energy level – speed (increasing, decreasing, remaining constant).
· Configuration of aircraft i.e. flaps, under carriage etc.
· System status (mode selection awareness). E.g. which fuel tank is selected. What systems are selected? How are they performing? Cross check information indicated as being logical and reasonable.
· Instrument indications making sense to present flight regime.
· Landing conditions – facilities- runway surface slope length, wind?
· Status of Self and others (cognitive etc.).
· Intentions of self and others ( ATC, second crew member etc.)
· The greater environment ( other aircraft, weather, navaids, etc.)
Unfounded ‘perceptions’ are hazardous – check out the facts and cross check! Take nothing for granted!
In this way a culture tantamount to safety and good airmanship will be become the norm or frame of reference.
Here’s a checklist that gives good guide lines: