December 2011 Issue

You Are The Judge

Like in a courtroom, making judgment calls is a matter of minding the facts. Listen to that little voice in your head when it tells you something is wrong.

The little voice inside the pilot’s head nagged on and on: “Headwinds higher than forecast...groundspeed lower than planned...maybe you should recalculate your fuel?” The simple fact is pilots too often fail to act on their internal voices until it’s too late. Accident reports, NASA ASRS submissions and down-and-dirty, true-flight confessions in hangar flying debriefs tell the sad tale. According to NTSB data and analysis by the AOPA Air Safety Institute and the Flight Safety Foundation, improper decision-making—judgment failings, many of them—underpin the majority of the 75 percent of accidents attributed to “pilot error.” It’s not smart to ignore that little voice questioning why you’re ignoring your own best instincts. There are many scenarios where that little voice can start yammering in your ear, perhaps most especially whether there is sufficient fuel aboard.

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