Contrary to popular opinion, good judgement can be taught. Heretofore it was supposed to be gained only as a natural by-product of experience. As pilots continued to log accident-free flight hours, a corresponding increase of good judgement was also assumed.
Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) builds upon the foundation of conventional decision making, but enhances the process to decrease the probability of pilot error. It provides a structured, systematic approach analysing changes that occurred during a flight and how these changes might affect a flight’s safe outcome. The ADM process addresses all aspects of decision making in the cockpit and identifies the steps involved in good decision making.
Steps for good decision making are:
(1) Identifying personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight.
(2) Learning behavior modification techniques.
(3) Learning how to recognize and cope with stress.
(4) Developing assessment skills.
(5) Using all resources in a multi-crew situation.
(6) Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills.
There are a number of classic behavioral traps into which pilots have been-known to fall. Pilots, particularly those with considerable experience, as a rule always try to complete a flight as planned; please passengers meet schedules, and generally demonstrate that they have the right stuff. This much-talked-about right stuff is a fragile image. The basic drive to demonstrate the right stuff can have an adverse effect on safety and can impose an unrealistic assessment of piloting skills under stressful conditions. These tendencies ultimately may lead to practices that are dangerous and often illegal, and may lead to a mishap. All experienced pilots have fallen prey to, or have been tempted by, one or more of these tendencies in their flying careers. These dangerous tendencies or behavior patterns, which must be identified and eliminated, include:
Peer Pressure: Poor decision making based upon emotional response to peers rather than evaluating a situation objectively.
Mind Set: The inability to recognize and cope with changes in the situation different from those anticipated or planned.
Get-There-It-is: This tendency, common among pilots, clouds the vision and impairs judgment by causing a fixation on the original goal or destination combined with a total disregard for any alternative course of action.
Duck-Under Syndrome: The tendency to sneak a peek by descending below minimums during an approach. Based on a belief that there is always a built-in fudge factor that can be used or on an unwillingness to admit defeat and shoot a missed approach.
Scud Running: Pushing the capabilities of the pilot and the aircraft to the limits by trying to maintain visual contact with the terrain while trying to avoid physical contact with it. This attitude is characterized by the old pilot’s joke: too bad to go IFR*, we go VFR. Continuing visual flight rules (VFR) into instrument conditions often leads to spatial disorientation or collision with ground/obstacles. It is even more dangerous if the pilot is not instrument qualified or current.
*IFR = Instrument Flight Rules: When the weather deteriorates in terms of visibility and distance from clouds, IFR is applicable, meaning you fly on instruments without outside reference to the visual horizon.
Getting Behind the Aircraft.: Allowing events or the situation to control your actions rather than the other way around. Characterized by a constant state of surprise at what happens next.
Loss of Positional or Situational Awareness: Another case of getting behind the aircraft which results in not knowing where you are, an inability to recognize deteriorating circumstances, and/or the misjudgment of the rate of deterioration.
Operating Without Adequate Fuel Reserves: Ignoring minimum fuel reserve requirements, either VFR or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) is generally the result of over confidence, lack of flight planning, or ignoring the regulations.
Descent Below the Minimum Enroute Altitude: The duck-under syndrome (mentioned above) manifesting itself during the en route portion of an IFR flight.
Flying Outside the Envelope: Unjustified reliance on the (usually mistaken) belief that the aircraft’s high performance capability meets the demands imposed by the pilot’s (usually overestimated) flying skills.
Neglect of Flight Planning, Pre-flight Inspections, checklists, etc.: Unjustified reliance on the pilot’s short and long term memory, regular flying skills, repetitive and familiar routes, etc.
Courtesy of the FAA
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