Saturday, May 26, 2012


G R Mohan | 12:05 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

In life, one makes decisions of various kinds, some routinely, and some after deliberate considerations. In aviation too, decision making is an essential pilot skill. While pre-flight situations are static in nature and under time pressure, inflight scenarios are constantly evolving and are dynamic in nature that needs immediate decisions and constant review.  The basic skill sets that a pilot need to fly the airplane safely can be categorised as :

·         The psychomotor skill or the stick and rudder skill to control the aircraft.
·         Situational awareness or the mental aircraft, which enables one to understand the various systems in the aircraft and their interplay to provide a safe flight environment.
·         Judgemental skills, where one is able to process information and arrive at viable and coherent decisions. This is also called the Aeronautical Decision Making process.
Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) is formally defined as a “Systematic approach to the mental process of evaluating a given set of circumstances and determining the best course of action.” A bit of a mouthful and one wonders how to apply this in a real scenario?
A simple practical and systematic approach to practice the ADM concepts, is the 3 P model: Perceive, Process and Perform.
To PERCEIVE, is about developing a clear and comprehensive awareness of your particular situation. Identify the hazards that you are likely to encounter. Four elements that combine and interact to create a unique situation in flight are Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment and External pressures (PAVE). Special attention should be given to their interplay and how they affect your ability to accomplish the mission.
To PROCESS, think through the Consequences of each hazard, Alternatives available, Reality of the situation, and External pressures that might influence your analysis. The goal is to evaluate each hazard that you perceived and evaluate their impact on the safety of the flight. Ask yourself, why must you CARE (Consequences, Alternatives, Reality and External pressures), about these circumstances? Be realistic about your decisions whether initial or inflight to continue or divert.
To PERFORM, determine the best course of action. Your goal is to Mitigate or eliminate the adverse impact, and then Evaluate to ensure that your course of action is generating the desired effect. Having identified a hazard and evaluated its impact on the safety or possible outcome of the flight, it is time to look at how to minimise the risk exposure. It is a good habit to define and develop personal minimums check list based your skill and competency. Develop good alternatives during the process phase, so that when you need to mitigate and evaluate, you have viable alternatives before you.
Pilot mistakes are often called “pilot error,” formally defined as: “An action or inaction that leads to a deviation from intentions and expectations.”  Statistical studies show that Pilot error is a listed as a causative factor in over 60 % of the accidents.
No matter how hard we try, it is simply not possible for human beings to avoid errors entirely, especially when complex systems are involved. By using a systematic approach to continuous ADM and developing awareness of common types of human ADM error, we can seek to minimize mistakes.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no... more acronyms! :) Seriously, this is serious stuff. I was driving in the pouring down rain on the freeway one night. Cars were speeding, one tailgating. Exit coming up. Is that my exit? Is the guy too close behind me? With the rainstorm, is there excess water on the freeway that will cause hydroplaning if I attempt to slow and exit? Now the fascinating thing is, I was just talking about this ability in the plane... to perceive, process and perform.

    Sometimes everything happens at once and we need our micro chips to kick into gear and take in all the facts in a nano second in this three process you describe so we can perform properly, instead of reacting.

    This is the reason we don't drink and fly. And the same reason we should be rested before we depart. And the reason, there should be a reasonable retirement age. With all three of the previous, response times slow down in each phase of the 3 P model.

    Excellent post.