November 2008 Issue

Top Ten Aviation Risk Reduction Steps

Manage risk wisely by developing a set of policies to implement when results are too threatening.

How’s this for an aviation truism? "The best pilots possess the superior judgment to avoid situations requiring their superior skills to survive." While arguably more true than a whole wealth of aeronautical truisms, it doesn’t provide much guidance in our quest to become one of those wiser and more-capable aviators. Which raises an obvious question: How does one develop such profound judgment? Old, no-longer-bold, aviators (another truism) generally know the answer: by surviving unwanted experiences. Which reminds us that experience is hands-down the best teacher, something we hear repeatedly. We’re not saying that experience is the safest teacher; obviously, the learning pilot faces elevated risks in the course of gaining the experience from which wisdom grows. A safer approach, of course, is absorbing tribal knowledge from those sobering hangar-flying tales of others’ experiences we hear and read. Another approach is to sample risky situations from safely within the confines of a full-motion cockpit simulator capable of providing exposure to palm-sweating situations without the, you know, danger. In the end, however, we have to emerge from the sim, leave the comfort of our fellow hangar flyers, and actually put on an airplane and fly it.

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