One approach to assessing risk, covered in the FAA’s Risk Management Handbook, is to use a risk assessment matrix (RAM) like the one depicted at right. The matrix simplifies part of the risk assessment process, since once likelihood and severity are determined for a given risk it’s easier to determine when mitigation is required.
With the FAA’s matrix, red means that the risk must be mitigated before a flight can begin or continue and a yellow risk is something that should be mitigated. Green and white results do not require mitigation.
Pilots also can use a flight risk assessment tool (FRAT), and instructors should ensure their students know what they are and how to use them. Since everything’s an app these days, the AOPA Air Safety Institute created one for aviation risk management. Its Flight Risk Evaluator is available on AOPA’s Web site (flash.aopa.org/asf/flightrisk) and on both iOS and Android devices.
My own rule of thumb states that ALL risks should be mitigated to lower levels, where possible, by reducing the likelihood and/or severity of each identified risk. I often treat yellow as no-go if it can’t be mitigated.