PILOT COMPETENCE (Part 1)
Acknowledgements: CAA Skyway Code 2017
There are a few specific attitudes that have been consistently identified as being factors in poor decision making and the cause of accidents:
· Anti-authority – aviation regulations sometimes have (occasionally deservedly) a reputation for being ineffective or irrelevant. However, for the most part the basic operating rules for GA have developed from harsh experience. Following the rules will not guarantee safety; however, breaking them will likely expose you to additional risks.
Remember: The rules are there for a reason
· Impulsiveness – accidents often seem to involve actions that are inexplicable or out of character for the individuals involved. Pilots who are ‘usually so careful’ occasionally seem to do things that appear to be quite reckless. One explanation is that situational pressures overcome peoples’ ability to make rational judgements and the impulse to ‘just do something’ takes over.
Remember: You must always think before you act, regardless of how much pressure there is to act on impulse.
· Complacency – people often believe bad things only happen to others. One of the most enduring truths about aviation is that the hazards within it treat all who enter equally. It can be tempting to abridge the pre-flight check or not bother to check NOTAMs, on the basis that there is rarely anything critical.
Remember: It could happen to you.
· Machismo – thankfully perhaps less common today than it once was, a macho attitude is essentially one that sees risk-taking as a positive thing and a challenge to rise to. For example, pushing on into poor weather in the belief that you are tough enough to handle it or taking risks to impress others.
Remember: Taking unnecessary risks is foolish.
· Resignation – with so many different factors to contend with when flying, it is sometimes tempting to believe that you have no influence on outcomes and that fate will run its course regardless of how you act. While some accidents appear to betray the hand of fate in a way no one could have foreseen, these are generally the exception. Many GA accidents would not have happened had better decisions been made before or during the flight.
Remember: You are the master of your own destiny. Take decisive action to achieve a safe outcome.
Attitudes to risk will always vary, especially in the broad church of general aviation. Overall an attitude that is thoughtful and cautious will stand you in good stead for GA flying. Everyone at one point or another will likely display elements of a risky attitude.
The trick is to remember that all humans are vulnerable.