November 1999 Issue

A Graceful Exit

Eight ways to turn a flight that’s going bad into a safe, secure landing

It’s a terrible feeling to be in an aircraft when something goes wrong and all you can see are your options narrowing. Although aviation psychologists have suggested a number of techniques for decision making, some seem too complicated for the cockpit.

When forced to make multiple decisions, navigate, communicate, and control the aircraft in a stressful environment, the “KISS” method – keep it simple, stupid – is probably best. There is a simple concept pilots should employ in their decision making, and it boils down to five words: Keep a safe way out.

This begins with flight planning. Most people would agree that a good flight begins with a good plan, and keeping a safe way out shoul...

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