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Aviation Learning Center Document Risk Management Teaching Tips
Author: Susan Parson Date: April 2005
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Real World Risk Management
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That's all great in theory, you say, but I fly and teach in the real world! Who has time for all this risk management rigmarole? In fact, using the 3P risk management cycle need not be a time-consuming chore. With practice and consistent use, running through the 3P cycle can become a habit that is as smooth, efficient, and automatic as a well-honed instrument scan. One way to implement these ideas is to include a 3P risk management discussion as a standard feature of your preflight briefing with the student or client. For example:

Perceive: Preflighting the Pilot should be the first step. Both you and your student should be healthy, well-rested, and alert. The next step is preflighting the Aircraft. Before you send your student out to the plane, though, help him or her think of the preflight process in terms of hazard identification (e.g., what could hurt me or people on the ground if I take off with less than the minimum quantity of oil?) A good weather briefing is part of identifying hazards related to the flight enVironment, and so is preflight planning for information on runway lengths, frequencies, and other factors. Last but not least, teach your student to list any External pressures that might create a hazard. For example, is the client trying to fit a flight lesson into a busy day, with "can't miss" appointments scheduled after the lesson?

Process: To assess the level of risk you face on a given flight, talk through the Consequences of each hazard you just identified. In the case of the pilot, for example, what should you do if your student or client rushes in looking harried, exhausted and stressed out? If you charge ahead without first giving the person time to calm down, s/he will learn little from the aeronautical lesson, but may well learn the wrong lesson about risk management. As an Alternative, consider making it a ground training day, or use the simulator if it is appropriate to the student's stage of learning. Simulator sessions -- even if only a "flight" on Microsoft FlightSim -- can teach students a lot about the impact (so to speak) of stress and fatigue on basic airplane control and aeronautical decision-making. Ensure that your students and clients acknowledge the Reality of each situation and hazard. One of my instructor friends reminds her students that any statement requiring use of the word "probably" definitely needs another reality check. Finally, the number of accidents resulting from a "get there" mentality requires that you assess the potential influence of External pressures. For example, will tight scheduling of the aircraft induce you or your student to rush through the preflight and engine runup? A teenage student of mine once requested another instructor because I refused to do just that on his first lesson. I can only hope he remembers something from the fact that I actually practiced what I was preaching about priorities.

Perform: Let's assume that your primary student heads out to do some solo work in the local practice area. Shortly after takeoff, s/he discovers that the C-152's attitude indicator has tumbled, even though the vacuum pressure is well within normal limits. The weather is good and s/he knows that the AI is not required for day VFR flight. However, the student has not previously encountered such a problem, and recognizes the malfunction as a hazard that could lead to risk of distraction or disorientation. The student's uncertainty also creates a degree of stress, which also raises the level of risk associated with this flight. What are the options for performing risk management? There are several ways to Mitigate the risk; the most obvious is to cover the malfunctioning instrument to minimize its ability to distract or disorient the pilot. Another option is to Eliminate the risk inherent in continuing the flight by returning to the airport. The student might also accept the risk and continue the practice session. What would your student(s) do in this situation? What would you want them to do? There may not be a single "right" answer. The point is to teach your students and clients to recognize the hazards and options they will face in any given flight, and to equip them with the tools they need to evaluate their options in a logical and safety-conscious way.

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