by Rob Finfrock
CJP was among the supporters of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown, held Oct. 31 prior to the opening of NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (BACE) in Orlando, FL. The daylong 2016 event focused on the ability to correctly assess and mitigate risk, which is among the most important skills for any pilot to develop, especially when that pilot is alone in the cockpit.
A staple in other industries, risk management is a relatively new consideration within the pilot community, but it’s about to become much more prevalent. Risk assessment training is a requirement under the FAA’s new airman certification standards for private pilot and instrument training, and will ultimately spread to other certifications.
Several tools are available to assist pilots in making an informed decision, including a recently-introduced Risk Management Guide for Single-Pilot Light Business Aircraft, developed by the NBAA Safety Committee’s Single-Pilot Safety Working Group. The guide also includes a single-pilot-focused flight risk assessment tool (FRAT), which takes a checklist approach to identifying potential risk factors that may combine to yield a dangerous series of conditions and scenarios.
While a FRAT can be a very useful resource, like any tool it can also be misused, cautioned CJP Director Marc Dulude. “The tendency [when using a FRAT] is to make the answer to the question change if the result isn’t what you wanted,” he said during a panel discussion with representatives from single-pilot aircraft owner/operator groups.
“You go through the list and go, ‘well, that’s kind of risky, but maybe this one’s not bad…’ and you change your answers around until you reach the desired outcome,” he continued. For that reason, the ability for pilots to realistically gauge their own risk levels is vital.
Assessment tools should be a part of that process, Dulude noted, in addition to the lessons learned through their personal experiences, and comparing notes with their peers through discussions and online forums. “I had an expression when I was working: ‘no meeting is worth my life,'” he added. “So, I would change my plan. I’d either go in earlier, or I’d say I couldn’t make it and we did a video conference instead.”
First held in 2009, the annual NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown highlights the segment’s significant influence throughout the business aviation community. NBAA noted that 70 percent of business aviation operations are conducted in single-pilot aircraft, representing 40 percent of the industry’s total flight hours.
For those who were unable to make it to Orlando, the complete daylong forum has been archived here.
Portions of this article by the author were published as part of NBAA Newsroom coverage of NBAA-BACE 2016.