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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

Obviously weather is a huge part of any plan. The addition
of datalink weather information give the advanced avionics
pilot a real advantage in inclement weather, but only if
the pilot is trained to retrieve, and evaluate the weather in
real time without sacrificing situational awareness. And of
course, weather information should drive a decision, even
if that decision is to continue on the current plan. Pilots of
aircraft without datalink weather should get updated weather
in flight through a Flight Service Station (FSS) and/or Flight

The Plane
Both the "plan" and the "plane" are fairly familiar to most
pilots. The "plane" consists of the usual array of mechanical
and cosmetic issues that every aircraft pilot, owner, or
operator can identify. With the advent of advanced avionics,
the "plane" has expanded to include database currency,
automation status, and emergency backup systems that were
unknown a few years ago. Much has been written about single
pilot IFR flight both with and without an autopilot. While this
is a personal decision, it is just that—a decision. Low IFR
in a non-autopilot equipped aircraft may depend on several
of the other Ps to be discussed. Pilot proficiency, currency,
and fatigue are among them.

The Pilot
Flying, especially when used for business transportation,
can expose the pilot to high altitude flying, long distance
and endurance, and more challenging weather. An advanced
avionics aircraft, simply due to their advanced capabilities can
expose a pilot to even more of these stresses. The traditional
"IMSAFE" checklist (see page 17-6) is a good start.

The combination of late night, pilot fatigue, and the effects
of sustained flight above 5,000 feet may cause pilots to
become less discerning, less critical of information, less
decisive and more compliant and accepting. Just as the most
critical portion of the flight approaches (for instance a night
instrument approach, in the weather, after a 4-hour flight) the
pilot's guard is down the most. The 5P process helps a pilot
recognize the physiological situation at the end of the flight
before takeoff, and continues to update personal conditions
as the flight progresses. Once risks are identified, the pilot is
in an infinitely better place to make alternate plans that lessen
the effect of these factors and provide a safer solution.

The Passengers
One of the key differences between CRM and SRM is
the way passengers interact with the pilot. The pilot of a
highly capable single-engine aircraft has entered into a very
personal relationship with the passengers. In fact, the pilot
and passengers sit within an arm's reach all of the time.

The desire of the passengers to make airline connections or
important business meetings easily enters into this pilot's
decision-making loop. Done in a healthy and open way, this
can be a positive factor. Consider a flight to Dulles Airport
and the passengers, both close friends and business partners,
need to get to Washington, D.C., for an important meeting.

The weather is VFR all the way to southern Virginia then turns
to low IFR as the pilot approaches Dulles. A pilot employing
the 5P approach might consider reserving a rental car at an
airport in northern North Carolina or southern Virginia to
coincide with a refueling stop. Thus, the passengers have a
way to get to Washington, and the pilot has an out to avoid
being pressured into continuing the flight if the conditions
do not improve.

Passengers can also be pilots. If no one is designated as pilot
in command (PIC) and unplanned circumstances arise, the
decision-making styles of several self-confident pilots may
come into conflict

Pilots also need to understand that non-pilots may not
understand the level of risk involved in the flight There is
an element of risk in every flight That is why SRM calls it
risk management, not risk elimination. While a pilot may feel
comfortable with the risk present in a night IFR flight, the
passengers may not. A pilot employing SRM should ensure
the passengers are involved in the decision-making and given
tasks and duties to keep them busy and involved. If, upon a
factual description of the risks present, the passengers decide
to buy an airline ticket or rent a car, then a good decision has
generally been made. This discussion also allows the pilot
to move past what he or she thinks the passengers want to
do and find out what they actually want to do. This removes
self-induced pressure from the pilot.

The Programming
The advanced avionics aircraft adds an entirely new
dimension to the way GA aircraft are .own. The electronic
instrument displays, GPS, and autopilot reduce pilot
workload and increase pilot situational awareness. While
programming and operation of these devices are fairly simple
and straightforward, unlike the analog instruments they
replace, they tend to capture the pilot's attention and hold it
for long periods of time. To avoid this phenomenon, the pilot
should plan in advance when and where the programming
for approaches, route changes, and airport information
gathering should be accomplished as well as times it should
not. Pilot familiarity with the equipment, the route, the local
air traffic control environment, and personal capabilities visà-
vis the automation should drive when, where, and how the
automation is programmed and used.