Best Practice. Decision-Making Tool for Pilots

FAA’s basic assumption is that not only can good judgement be learned from experience - it can be taught. The Aeronautical Decision Making tool, ADM, builds upon conventional decision making to help decrease the likelihood of errors in the cockpit. It is a structured, systematic approach using risk-management tools called PAVE and 3P, and a decision-making model DECIDE, modified for pilot’s situations.

PAVE defines the four major hazards of flight: Pilot, Aircraft, enVironmental and External. Hazards create risk, making PAVE critical in risk management and ultimately preflight and in-flight aeronautical decision making. The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) defines risk ‘as the future effect of a hazard which is not controlled or eliminated.’

Two models for practical risk management are used. The first invokes the Perceive-Process-Perform or 3P model. First, Perceive a given set of circumstances for your flight using PAVE. Then Process the circumstances by evaluating their effect on flight safety with CARE (Consequences, Alternatives, Reality, External pressures). Lastly, Perform the best course of action using TEAM (Transfer, Eliminate, Accept, Mitigate). This process should become largely automated. The degree of a risk can be weighed in terms of exposure, severity and probability. An exposure could include the number of people or resources that would be affected. Severity is the extent of possible loss. Last, what is the probability that a hazard will cause a loss?

DECIDE is a simple six-step tool offering you a logical way to make decisions. In the current context it is also considered a risk management tool. Your senses Detect that an unexpected event occurred. You use your insight and experience; you objectively analyse all available information. Then you Estimate the nature of the issue and how severe it might be. A caution: If you incorrectly define the problem, incorrect decision making will follow. Choose a course of action that leads to a desired outcome. Then you must Identify one or more solutions that will lead to a safe landing. Frozen by indecision may mean no decision and hence no corrective action. All the above is irrelevant if the pilot doesn’t Do something. Once corrective actions are decided, the pilot has to implement them. Then Evaluate the action to see if it worked. If not, the DECIDE model may have to be run again. Have a look at the flowchart, integrating PAVE, 3Ps, DECIDE, CARE, TEAM tools in the link!

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Aeronautical decision making (ADM): PAVE, 3P, DECIDE