Risk Management-A Critical Element of Single Pilot Resource Management-Part 1
(Submitted for the October 2013 TP newsletter by Robert Wright on 9-27-13)
Risk management expertise is critical to safe operation of any aircraft, especially high performance light business aircraft (LBA) operated by a single pilot. Risk management skills are a subset of a larger skill set known as single pilot resource management (SRM) which, in addition to risk management, includes skills such as automation management, task and workload management, and maintaining situational awareness. Risk management can be broken down into three distinct phases: identification, assessment, and mitigation. In this article, I’ll briefly describe the risk identification process and in future articles I’ll cover risk assessment and risk mitigation.
Risk identification begins by identifying various types of hazards that may affect your planned or on-going flight. These may be classified into four categories by using the simple acronym “PAVE,” which stands for Pilot, Aircraft, Environment, External pressures. Pilots must identify all existing hazards in each category before and during flight in order to conduct effective risk identification. Pilot-related hazards include qualification, currency, and aeromedical related risks. Qualification refers to the basic license and other qualifications for the flight in question. A pilot’s level of recent experience will have similar consequences if he/she has not maintained currency and proficiency. The aeromedical category includes a wide range of issues including use of prescription and non-prescription drugs, illness, fatigue, and other factors.
Aircraft-related hazards include availability of installed equipment, the operability of that equipment, and aircraft performance issues. Limitations in aircraft performance capabilities, such as range and takeoff performance, can also present hazards and risks under certain conditions.
Environment-related hazards cover a wide range of conditions and include weather, terrain, airport, airspace, night operations and other potential risks. Each of these environmental sub-elements warrant their own discussion and environment-related risks are perhaps pilots’ biggest risk management challenges.
External pressure-related hazards include work, family, passenger, air traffic control, and other elements that can impact pilots and create overt or subtle pressures to begin or continue a flight in the face of high risks associated with other hazards. Your job as a single pilot of an LBA is to practice effective SRM and risk management and identify all risks associated with a planned or continuing flights. Of course, not all risks are created equal and your next task is to assess risks in terms of their likelihood and severity. I’ll cover risk assessment, as well as risk mitigation, in future articles.
You can improve your SRM and risk management skills by taking the Single Pilot Resource Management course offered by TrainingPort (www.trainingport.net). If you are a multi-pilot crew, Crew Resource Management courses are also available at TrainingPort.net. All of these courses were developed by subject matter experts at Crew Resource Management LLC (www.criticalcrm.com).