15 August, 2013

3 Basic Flying Rules to Live (and Keep Alive) by

Flying in all its forms is remarkably safe considering the unforgiving nature of the environment pilots operate in. A fundamental way to keep operations as safe as possible is to be mindful of and adhere to three basic rules. These apply to normal as well as unusual and emergency situations. Following them will go a long way to keeping normal flying from becoming emergency flying.

The rules are:

2). COMMUNICATE - and-

I've presented them in descending order of priority, but a pilot or crew absolutely has to do all of them. Here's how it works:

Aviate. Simply put, someone must always be flying the airplane. This means tending to the basic stick and rudder functions and the care and feeding of the systems that keep you aloft and in controlled flight. With more than one pilot, it is crucial (but unfortunately not sufficiently obvious) that someone has to be unambiguously responsible for flying the airplane. You can rely on automation to relieve some of the second by second workload, but can never abdicate control of your fate to an autopilot. The monitoring and assessment tasks you perform as a pilot are identical irrespective of whether you are hand flying, using a wing leveler, or a full-blown multi-axis autopilot. The rule applies to your Cessna-150 or a Boeing 747. One area of special emphasis is your response to abnormal flight situations. The temptation is powerful to devoting all the brainpower in the cockpit to solving a systems problem. This temptation has to be avoided by a one person crew as well as a multi-member crew. And one person has to be clearly in charge.

This brings us logically to our next rule;

Communicate: This is how everyone knows who is in charge, who is doing the flying ("I have the airplane", is a good declarative statement to make. All the better when it is clearly and promptly responded to: "Roger, the airplane is yours."), and what the gameplan is. Communication is a fundamental and essential element of effective resource management for a multi-person crew. Another dimension of communication is external to the cockpit. You have to ensure that ATC personnel and, as appropriate, other users of the airspace, know where your are, where you're going, what your situation is, and any other factor that forms what we will refer to as "your intentions." If you have passengers, it is certainly helpful to apprise them of the situation and your intentions.

And this leaves the final rule;

Navigate: By this I mean more than X marks the spot on a sectional chart. You must navigate successfully through the landscape that is your total situational awareness. Knowing about the terrain below you; relative range and headings to airports, fields, and other landing opportunities, and their conditions; and the location of nearby traffic is critically necessary but not sufficient. You must also address things like your fuel situation, weather, and aircraft system status. When you're successful navigating, the intentions you formulate will always be within the capabilities of your crew as pilots, and of your aircraft.

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