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ALC-408: ADM for LTA Free Balloons
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Situational Awareness

•Situational awareness is the accurate perception and understanding of all the factors and conditions within the four fundamental risk elements that affect safety before, during, and after the flight. To maintain situational awareness, a pilot needs to understand the relative significance of these factors and their future impact on the flight. When a pilot is situationally aware, he or she has an overview of the total operation.
•Some obstacles to maintaining situational awareness include (but are not limited to) fatigue, stress, and work overload; complacency; and classic behavioral traps such as the drive to meet or exceed flight goals. Situational awareness depends on the ability to switch rapidly between a number of different, and possibly competing, information sources and tasks while maintaining a collective view of the environment. Experienced pilots are better able to interpret a situation because of their base of experience, but newer pilots can compensate for lack of experience with the appropriate fundamental core competencies acquired during initial and recurrent flight training. SRM training helps the pilot maintain situational awareness, which enables the pilot to assess and manage risk and make accurate and timely decisions. To maintain situational awareness, all of the skills involved in ADM are used. 


Understanding the decision-making process provides a foundation for developing the necessary ADM skills. Some situations, such as an extinguished pilot light, require an immediate response using established procedures. While pilots are well trained to react to emergencies, they are not as prepared to make decisions that require a more reflective response. The ability to examine any changes that occur during a flight, gather information, and assess risk before reaching a decision constitutes the steps of the decision-making process. 

Defining the Problem -Problem definition is the first step in the decision-making process. Defining the problem begins with recognizing a change has occurred or an expected change did not occur. A problem is perceived first by the senses and then is distinguished through insight and experience. This “gut” reaction, coupled with an objective analysis of all available information, determines the exact nature and severity of the problem.

Choosing a Course of Action -After the problem has been identified, the pilot must evaluate the need to react to it and determine the actions that need To maintain situational awareness, an accurate perception must be attained of how the pilot, balloon, environment, and operation combine to affect the flight. 

Situation Risk Elements - Factors, such as weather and airport conditions, must be examined. The balloon performance, limitations, equipment, and airworthiness must be determined. The purpose of the flight is a factor which influences the pilot’s decision on undertaking or continuing the flight. The pilot’s fitness to fly must be evaluated including competency in the balloon, currency, and flight experience to be taken to resolve the situation in the time available. The expected outcome of each possible action should be considered and the risks assessed before deciding on a response to the situation.

The Model:

•A common approach to decision-making for the last decade has been the rational choice model. This concept holds that good decisions result when a pilot gathers all the information related to a particular scenario, reviews it, analyzes the options available, and decides on the best course of action to follow.

•The DECIDE Model, a six-step process intended to provide the pilot with a logical way of approaching decision-making, is an example of this concept. The six elements of the DECIDE Model represent a continuous loop process to assist a pilot in decision-making. If a pilot uses the DECIDE Model in all decision-making, it becomes natural and results in better decisions being made under all types of situations.

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