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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Aeronautical Decision-Making
Hazard and Risk

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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




The five hazardous attitudes identified through past and contemporary study.
Figure 17-3. The five hazardous attitudes identified through past and contemporary study.

Assessing Risk
For the single pilot, assessing risk is not as simple as it sounds.
For example, the pilot acts as his or her own quality control
in making decisions. If a fatigued pilot who has flown 16
hours is asked if he or she is too tired to continue flying, the
answer may be no. Most pilots are goal oriented and when
asked to accept a flight, there is a tendency to deny personal
limitations while adding weight to issues not germane to the
mission. For example, pilots of helicopter emergency services
(EMS) have been known (more than other groups) to make
flight decisions that add significant weight to the patient's
welfare. These pilots add weight to intangible factors (the
patient in this case) and fail to appropriately quantify actual
hazards such as fatigue or weather when making flight
decisions. The single pilot who has no other crew member
for consultation must wrestle with the intangible factors that
draw one into a hazardous position. Therefore, he or she has
a greater vulnerability than a full crew.

Examining National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
reports and other accident research can help a pilot learn to
assess risk more effectively. For example, the accident rate
during night VFR decreases by nearly 50 percent once a
pilot obtains 100 hours, and continues to decrease until the
1,000 hour level. The data suggest that for the first 500 hours,
pilots flying VFR at night might want to establish higher
personal limitations than are required by the regulations
and, if applicable, apply instrument flying skills in this

Several risk assessment models are available to assist in the
process of assessing risk. The models, all taking slightly
different approaches, seek a common goal of assessing risk
in an objective manner. Two are illustrated below.
The most basic tool is the risk matrix. [Figure 17-4] It
assesses two items: the likelihood of an event occurring and
the consequence of that event.

risk matrix
Figure 17-4. This risk matrix can be used for almost any operation
by assigning likelihood and consequence. In the case presented,
the pilot assigned a likelihood of occasional and the severity as
catastrophic. As one can see, this falls in the high risk area.