August 2011 Issue

Maintaining Safety Margins

General aviationís accident record remains dismally static because we tend to lose focus on important details and allow safety margins to erode.

Students of introductory biology learn a basic lesson about sensory perception in a quirky behavior found in certain amphibians that has become common lore. By now we all know that if a frog is placed in hot water, he will immediately jump out to safety. However, if the frog is placed in cool water that is gently heated to boiling, the frog does not perceive the gradual rise in temperature or the impending danger. Likewise, when a pilot is presented with a problem or emergency that is an obvious attention-getter, he or she will react quickly to solve the immediate threatóa frog leaping from scalding water.

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