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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Aeronautical Decision-Making
The Decision-Making Process

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making

After two hours of flight, the right engine quit when
Everyman was flying along a deep canyon gorge. While he
was trying to troubleshoot the cause of the right engine's
failure, the left engine quit. Everyman landed the aircraft on
a river sand bar but it sank into ten feet of water.

Several years later Everyman flew a de Havilland Twin Otter
to deliver supplies to a remote location. When he returned to
home base and landed, the aircraft veered sharply to the left,
departed the runway, and ran into a marsh 375 feet from the
runway. The airframe and engines sustained considerable
damage. Upon inspecting the wreck, accident investigators
found the nose wheel steering tiller in the fully deflected
position. Both the after takeoff and before landing checklists
required the tiller to be placed in the neutral position.
Everyman had overlooked this item.

Now, is Everyman accident prone or just unlucky? Skipping
details on a checklist appears to be a common theme in the
preceding accidents. While most pilots have made similar
mistakes, these errors were probably caught prior to a mishap
due to extra margin, good warning systems, a sharp copilot, or
just good luck. What makes a pilot less prone to accidents?
The successful pilot possesses the ability to concentrate,
manage workloads, monitor and perform several simultaneous
tasks. Some of the latest psychological screenings used
in aviation test applicants for their ability to multitask,
measuring both accuracy, as well as the individual's ability
to focus attention on several subjects simultaneously. The
FAA oversaw an extensive research study on the similarities
and dissimilarities of accident-free pilots and those who were
not. The project surveyed over 4,000 pilots, half of whom
had "clean" records while the other half had been involved
in an accident.

Five traits were discovered in pilots prone to having
accidents. These pilots:
• Have disdain toward rules.
• Have very high correlation between accidents on their
flying records and safety violations on their driving
• Frequently fall into the "thrill and adventure seeking"
personality category.
• Are impulsive rather than methodical and disciplined,
both in their information gathering and in the speed
and selection of actions to be taken.
• A disregard for or under utilization of outside sources
of information, including copilots, flight attendants,
flight service personnel, flight instructors, and air
traffic controllers.

• A disregard for or under utilization of outside sources
of information, including copilots, flight attendants,
flight service personnel, flight instructors, and air
traffic controllers.

The Decision-Making Process

An understanding of the decision making process provides
the pilot with a foundation for developing ADM and SRM
skills. While some situations, such as engine failure, require
an immediate pilot response using established procedures,
there is usually time during a flight to analyze any changes
that occur, gather information, and assess risk before reaching
a decision.

Risk management and risk intervention is much more than
the simple definitions of the terms might suggest. Risk
management and risk intervention are decision-making
processes designed to systematically identify hazards,
assess the degree of risk, and determine the best course of
action. These processes involve the identification of hazards,
followed by assessments of the risks, analysis of the controls,
making control decisions, using the controls, and monitoring
the results.

The steps leading to this decision constitute a decision making
process. Three models of a structured framework
for problem-solving and decision-making are the 5-P, the 3P,
the 3 with CARE and TEAM, the OODA, and the DECIDE
models. They provide assistance in organizing the decision
process. All these models have been identified as helpful to
the single pilot in organizing critical decisions.
SRM and the 5P Check

SRM is about how to gather information, analyze it, and make
decisions. Learning how to identify problems, analyze the
information, and make informed and timely decisions is not
as straightforward as the training involved in learning specific
maneuvers. Learning how to judge a situation and "how to
think" in the endless variety of situations encountered while
flying out in the "real world" is more difficult.

There is no one right answer in ADM, rather each pilot is
expected to analyze each situation in light of experience
level, personal minimums, and current physical and mental
readiness level, and make his or her own decision.