If you’re a GA pilot, here’s a pro tip that could save your life

22 de novembro de 2018

Fonte: Forbes (04/08/2015)


The FAA and general aviation community have launched a “Fly Safe” summer flying campaign to focus on the leading cause of accidents among private pilots.  With 450 people killed annually, the general aviation accident rate has remained stubbornly high, with loss of control accidents being the leading cause.  According to the FAA, a loss of control accident often happens because the aircraft “enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and may quickly develop into a stall or spin.”  Recovering from an unexpected stall or spin can be very difficult especially for a pilot without a lot of flight time or without a lot of recent experience handling stalls or spins.


Contributing factors can include ” poor judgment/aeronautical decision making, failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action, intentional regulatory non-compliance, low pilot time in aircraft make and model, lack of piloting ability, failure to maintain airspeed, failure to follow procedure, pilot inexperience and proficiency, or the use of over-the-counter drugs that impact pilot performance.”  Often times, the emergency situation that leads to the loss of control could have been prevented if the flight`s potential hazards and safety risks had been adequately assessed before take off.


Which brings me to this month`s pro tip from the FAA and its Flying Safe campaign partners, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association: utilizing so called FRATs, Flight Risk Assessment Tools.  These decisionmaking tools are used routinely by commercial aviation entities to help them decide in a structured, data-driven manner what a flight`s risks are and whether, if they are too high, they can be mitigated sufficiently to allow for a safe flight.  Links to FRATs developed by the FAA, AOPA and NBAA are listed here.  So if you`re a GA pilot, you can use one of these FRATs to help you make the go/no go decision each and every time you fly.  And possibly save your – and your passengers – lives.


According to the FAA, “using a FRAT to put everything on paper allows you to graphically depict risk limits free from the pressure of an impending flight or maintenance task. It also provides perspective on the entire risk picture and sets the stage for managing risk through proactive mitigation strategies that are documented. There are many FRAT options available for mobile devices and apps for flight planning, weather briefing, and flight monitoring/tracking. More robust, complex apps can also help you think through a more complete range of hazards and risk factors.”  The most important aspect of the tool, I believe from my years of investigating GA accidents and their causes, is that it gives you a systematized approach in which “you will create realistic, numerical thresholds that trigger additional levels of scrutiny prior to a go/no go decision for the flight.”  The FRAT should have three possible score ranges:


Green: ready to fly.

Yellow: caution, mitigation of some high-risk items advisable.

Red: no-go.


So if you fly as a private pilot, definitely look into using a FRAT before each and every flight.  And if you`re married to a GA pilot, make sure he or she is aware of these tools and encourage their use.

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