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Aviation Learning Center Document Risk Management Teaching Tips
Author: Susan Parson Date: April 2005
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Perceive, Process, Perform
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More importantly, however, this document -- which was developed by active flight instructors -- seeks to offer a few practical tools for teaching your flight training clients to think, and practice, effective risk management in the real world. These tools start with the Perceive -- Process -- Perform model developed by the FAA's Aviation Safety Program. To use this model, you:

  • PERCEIVE hazards;

  • PROCESS level of risk;

  • PERFORM risk management.

I like to think of this 3P model as a mental equivalent to the physical flow pattern and scan techniques we teach for checking airplane configuration and instruments. In fact, the components of 3P model match up very well to the cross-check (perceive), interpretation (process), and control (perform) elements of the standard instrument scan. Just as in the case of an instrument scan, however, the 3P technique itself is pointless unless you know what to look for, how to interpret what you see, and how to apply that information to controlling the risk inherent in operating several thousand feet above Mother Earth.

Here's how the elements of the 3P scan are intended to work together:

  • As you perceive (cross-check), the goal is to identify hazards, which are events, objects, or circumstances that could contribute to an undesired event. For example, a large nick in the propeller is a hazard.

  • As you process (interpret), the goal is to determine whether the hazards you have identified constitute risk, which is the future impact of a hazard that is not controlled or eliminated. The degree of risk posed by a given hazard can be measured in terms of exposure (number of people or resources affected), severity (extent of possible loss), and probability (the likelihood that a hazard will cause a loss). For example, the hazard described above (a nick in the propeller) poses a risk only if the airplane is flown. If the airplane stays on the ground, there is no risk. If, however, the damaged prop is exposed to normal engine operation, there is a high risk is that it could fracture and cause catastrophic damage not only to the airplane and its occupants, but also to people and property on the ground.

  • In order to perform (control) by mitigating the risk identified in the perceive and process stages, you need to determine what you can do to maximize safety (i.e., freedom from those conditions (hazards) that can cause death, injury, or illness; or damage to equipment, property, or the environment). Since flight training is not possible without some level of risk, you also need to decide what constitutes an "acceptable" level of risk.

In this connection, it is helpful to use the four basic rules of risk management:

  • Accept no unnecessary risk. Unnecessary risk comes without a corresponding benefit. With a brand-new instrument student, for example, the risk of training in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) may outweigh any benefit from the experience.

  • Make risk decisions at the appropriate level. Risk decisions should be made by the person who can do something to reduce or eliminate the risk. Although you, as the instructor, retain final responsibility for the safety of the flight, remember that you are training clients to act as pilot-in-command. Asking them to identify hazards, assess risk, and suggest ways to mitigate the risk will instill good habits and help them develop judgment. Their answers to these questions will also give you valuable insights on the extent of the student's aeronautical decision-making skills.

  • Accept risk when benefits outweigh costs (i.e., dangers) With an advanced instrument student, the benefits of training in IMC may outweigh the potential dangers, so long as there has been a careful risk assessment and implementation of appropriate risk controls.

  • Integrate risk management into planning at all levels. Because risk is an unavoidable part of flying, safety requires the use of appropriate and effective risk management before every flight. As flight instructors, therefore, we need to help our clients develop the risk management skills they need to handle challenges that are not addressed by the rules or (more likely) beyond their experience.

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