SRM in Action
One of the most important things I lacked at the time was a set of personal minimums that, given the soupy conditions at my departure airport, would have kept me on the ground that day.
But let’s say that you launch, like I did. The most valuable resources I had that day were external. I had been monitoring weather via an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), but the pilot ahead of me on the approach provided real-time information that made my divert-to-Dulles decision pretty easy. While I didn’t need any special assistance from air traffic control (ATC), it was comforting to know that all the resources they offer were just one transmission away.
If you have passengers with you, they can assist by reading checklist items, watching for traffic, and listening to ATC radio calls. You might also teach regular passengers to assist with switching radio frequencies and basic programming for moving map and multifunction displays. Internal resources also include checklists and verbal briefings.
In basic terms, I passed the SRM test: I flew single-pilot, single-engine IFR in IMC and landed without bending metal or rules. But there was plenty of room for improvement.
Onboard equipment constitutes another important resource. Today’s technology offers an incredible range of information to assist with overall situational awareness, navigation, weather information, and much more. The key is to know what information is available and how to access it without diverting your attention from essential aircraft control duties.
To apply the tenets of SRM in a structured way, the Risk Management Handbook suggests regular evaluation of:
The point of the 5P approach is not to memorize yet another aviation acronym. Instead, you might simply write these words on your kneeboard, or add a 5P reference to your checklist for key decision points during the flight. Items to consider include:
Plan: Basic elements of cross-country planning: weather, route, fuel, current publications, etc. Since any of these factors can change at any time, review and update the plan at regular intervals.
Plane: Be proficient with all installed equipment, and familiar with performance characteristics and limitations. Monitor systems and instruments in order to detect any abnormal indications at the earliest opportunity.
Pilot: The “IMSAFE” checklist is a handy tool for identifying hazards to your fitness for flight.
Passengers: Passengers can be a great help by performing tasks such as those listed above. Be mindful, though, that passenger needs — e.g., physiological discomfort, anxiety, or desire to reach the destination — can create potentially dangerous distractions.
Programming: Electronic displays, moving map navigators, and autopilots can reduce workload and increase situational awareness. However, be mindful that the task of programming or operating this equipment can create a dangerous distraction.