Flight Safety Resource for Pilots

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Do all Pilots need an Operation Manual?

How safe do you feel flying? Here's an even more important question: is that feeling an accurate representation of how safe you really are? If you're the greatest pilot who ever lived, with logbooks full of experience and an uncanny ability to predict the future, then yes, that level of safety you feel probable IS accurate. If you're like the rest of us, mere mortals, then there will be times when you're scared (when you shouldn't be) and times when you're "fat, dumb, and happy" (and you definitely shouldn't be.) This means you must depend on something more reliable to determine whether you're "safe."

What does, "how safe I feel," matter?
This could quite possibly be the most important factor in flight safety. Because how safe we feel dictates everything we do, both inside the cockpit and out. It dictates how much time we study a particular area of flight, or how much effort we put into a preflight, or how many seminars we attend. Did you ever have an examiner about whom everybody said, "The one thing he wants to see the most is the preflight inspection," or "proper radio phraseology," or "stalls?" Examiners, like all pilots, feel more concerned about some areas than they do about others. These different concerns are based on that person's genetics and life experiences. Can you think of a pilot whom you've heard say, "I would never do that...", when that same pilot will go out and do something you consider even more foolish or dangerous?
What this means is, if ten different pilots are given a situation to deal with, you will get ten different responses. This is possibly, the primary reason General Aviation does not have the safety record that professional flight departments do. Professional flight departments and Airlines don't let individual pilots make policy or safety decisions based on personal confidence levels. These pilots are no better or worse then other pilots, they just have more guidance and structure.

So what can we do about it?
Personally, I am concerned about many areas in aviation. Some things really give me the heebeegeebees, like Circling Instrument approaches at unfamiliar airports. But I know there are some things that just don't seem to be real threats to me. An example would be this: I have never felt overly worried that I might lose an engine on takeoff. This could be a problem. Since I'm not worried about it, I might not review the emergency procedures for it as often as I should. I might not carefully check for instrument departure procedures and minimum climb gradient requirements for obstruction clearance. I might not review "loss of engine at V1 procedures" on my departure briefing. If I ever lost an engine on takeoff, I would be completely unprepared and surprised. But, while this does not seem like a threat to me, I want to be a professional. I want to be a good pilot – no, I want to be a great pilot. So I read and understand that this is important. I practice V1 cuts in the simulator over and over. I make sure I have the necessary climb performance for this airport elevation and temperature. I check and review everything! In my takeoff briefing, I discuss exactly what we are going to do if we lose an engine and when we are rolling down the runway I am thinking: watch out for an engine loss.

So what should a pilot worry about?
Don't ignore your feelings. Pilots talk about loosing that, warm fuzzy feeling. It's important to recognize and respond to those feelings. The more experience a pilot accumulates, the more insightful those feelings become. But in addition to those feelings, you should have a list of guidelines and limitations that are well thought-out and determined ahead of time. These guidelines and limitations should be based on factual research and accepted industry standards. That is to say, not what worries pilots, but what actually kills them. These guidelines and limitations come in the form of a flight manual.

Don't you think it's a good idea that Airlines and Professional Flight Departments provide guidelines and limitations for their pilots? These guidelines are the culmination of years of experience and research. They represent the collective thought of many experienced pilots. Decisions are not based on individual pilot viewpoints, or swayed by their fears or lack of fears. That way, every flight is safe and consistent. Most people wouldn't feel safe if, the next time they got on an airliner, they knew that the pilot had no guidelines – that regardless of the weather, aircraft mechanical condition, crew condition, and a hundred other factors, it was up to him or her alone to decide whether to fly or not to fly. Thankfully, however, this is not the case. We take comfort in knowing that the pilot has been provided with well-thought-out guidelines and limitations. The company makes resources, knowledge and information available at the pilot's fingertips to help answer the tough questions.

If you believe that it's a good idea for an Airline pilot or Corporate pilot to have this information and guidance, would you agree it might be a good idea for you to have it as well? Maybe even a necessity? Procockpit's, Pilot Manual Builder program can give you all of this and more. Read more...

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