Safety Risk Management in Aviation | Risk Management in flying

Safety Risk Management in Aviation

Safety Risk Management in Aviation | Integrate Risk Management into Aircraft Flying

Integrate Risk Management into Aircraft Flying

Early on in a flight's planning, risks are easier to evaluate and mitigate. Changes that are made later in the planning and execution phase could be more challenging, time-consuming, and expensive. However, safety is improved whenever risk management is done properly and successfully. Process for Managing Risk A straightforward procedure called risk management detects operational risks and takes precautions to lower the risk to people, property, and the mission. The pilot must make a number of risky decisions throughout each flight. The pilot must recognise the danger, evaluate its severity, and choose the best course of action to reduce it in order to fly safely.

Step 1: Identify the Hazard

Any actual or projected situation that has the potential to degrade, cause illness, harm, death, or damage to or loss of property or equipment is considered a danger. Risks are easier to recognise with experience, common sense, and specific analytical techniques. A hazard may be examined further if the pilot determines that it could endanger the aircraft.

Step 2: Assess the Risk

Based on the exposure of people or equipment to the risks, each detected risk may be evaluated in terms of its chance (probability) and severity (consequences) that could emerge from the hazards. Then, it is possible to evaluate overall risk, often utilizing a risk assessment matrix, such as an online flight risk awareness tool (FRAT). The likelihood and severity of an accident are determined by this process.

Step 3: Mitigate the Risk

Look into specific tactics and equipment that can lower, alleviate, or even eliminate the risk. By taking steps to reduce likelihood and/or severity to lower levels, high risks can be reduced. These measures may also be employed in cases of substantial danger. Normal mitigation is not needed for medium- and low-risk situations. The most important dangers are reduced or eliminated by effective control strategies. The study may take into account the overall costs and benefits of corrective measures, offering substitute options when appropriate.

Implementing the Risk Management Process

The following guidelines ensure that the above-described steps that make up a risk mitigation strategy are as effective as possible.

  • Apply the steps in order; each one serves as a foundation for the next and must be finished before moving on. More significant dangers may be unnoticed if a phase in the hazard identification process is paused to concentrate on the control of a specific problem. The remaining steps of the procedure are ineffective unless all hazards have been identified.
  • Keep the process in balance; each stage is crucial. Allocate the necessary time and materials.
  • Use the method iteratively; the "supervise and review" stage ought to involve a fresh examination of the operation under analysis to determine whether any fresh dangers may be found.
  • Involve people in the process; make sure that risk controls support the mission and are viewed favorably by those who perform the work. Usually, those who are exposed to risks are the greatest at knowing what works and what doesn't. 

Identifying Risk

Hazards and the risks they pose can either be easy to spot or more challenging. By keeping constant situational awareness, you should deliberately identify and categorise threats to a planned or ongoing flight. Applying the shorthand PAVE to your risk management procedure can help with this approach. Pilot, Aircraft, Environment, and External Pressures are the letters in the acronym. Use the PAVE acronym to identify risk using the following rules and inquiries.

The Pave Checklist

The PAVE checklist, which forms a crucial part of a pilot's decision-making process, helps the pilot categories the risks of flight into four groups: Pilot in command (PIC), Aircraft, Environment, and External Pressures.

Pilots have an easy way to remember each category to assess for risk before each flight thanks to the PAVE checklist. A pilot must determine whether a risk or combination of hazards can be managed safely and successfully after determining the risks associated with a flight. Otherwise, the flight ought to be cancelled. The pilot must devise risk-reduction plans if he or she chooses to continue the flight. A pilot can reduce their risk by establishing personal minimums for each risk category. These are specific restrictions based on the pilot's present degree of training and expertise.

For instance, the pilot may be accustomed to flying in crosswinds up to 10 knots, despite the aircraft's maximum crosswind component being 15 knots according to the aircraft flight manual (AFM). Without extra training, it can be dangerous to exceed a crosswind component of 10 knots. Therefore, until further training with a flight instructor gives the pilot extra experience for flying in crosswinds that exceed 10 knots, the pilot's personal limit should be the 10 knots crosswind experience level. The distinction between what is "legal" in terms of the laws and what is "smart" or "safe" in terms of pilot experience and expertise is one of the most crucial ideas that safe pilots comprehend.

P = Pilot-in-command (PIC)

One of the risk variables in a flight is the pilot. A pilot may question himself, "Am I ready for this trip?" after assessing the risk against their knowledge, resources, and emotional and mental well-being. The IMSAFE checklist (explained later in this chapter) along with competence, recentness, and currency contribute to the solution.

A = Aircraft

What restrictions will the aircraft place on the journey? Identify the appropriate aircraft for the flight by asking the following questions.

  • Am I knowledgeable about and up to date on this aircraft? A new aircraft flown by a qualified test pilot served as the basis for the AFM and the aircraft performance numbers. When evaluating one's own and an aircraft's performance, keep that in mind.
  • Is this airplane ready for the trip? Instruments? Lights? sufficient navigation and communication tools?
  • Can this aircraft use the available runways for the flight with a sufficient margin of safety under the circumstances?
  • Can the plane carry the intended load?
  • Can this plane fly at the heights required for the journey.
  • Does this aircraft have enough fuel capacity, including reserves, for the intended journey legs?
  • Does the amount of fuel provided match the amount that was ordered?

V = enVironment

Major environmental factors include the weather. It was previously advised that pilots establish their own personal minimums, particularly when it comes to weather. Pilots should think about the following factors as they assess the weather for a given flight:

  • What are the present ceiling and visibility?
  • Consider having greater minimums for ceiling and visibility in mountainous terrain, especially if the region is new.
  • Take into account the risk that the weather could not be as predicted. If something unexpected happens, have backup plans and be prepared to detour.
  • Take into account the crosswind intensity and the winds at the airports being utilized.
  • If flying over mountainous terrain, take into account the presence of strong winds in the atmosphere. Even when there is no other substantial weather, strong winds in hilly terrain can produce severe turbulence and downdrafts and be extremely dangerous for aeroplanes.
  • Are there any current or predicted thunderstorms?
  • If there are clouds, is icing present or predicted? What is the current altitude temperature and the temperature-dew point spread? Can the entire route be descended safely?
  • Does the pilot have experience using the aircraft's deicing or anti-icing equipment in icing conditions? Is this machinery in good working order and condition? What kind of icing circumstances, if any, is the aircraft rated for?

 Analysis of the flight environment also includes evaluating the terrain. Use the heights depicted on VFR and IFR charts during preflight planning to choose safe altitudes in advance to avoid terrain and obstructions, particularly at night or in poor visibility. Reduce your odds of colliding with terrain or other objects while you are in the air by using maximum elevation figures (MEFs) and other readily available data.

Airport considerations include:

  • What lighting options are present at the destination and backup airports? ILS glideslope guidance or VASI/PAPI? Are they available at the airport's terminal? Are they effective? Will the pilot need to turn on the airport lights over the radio?
  • For information on closed airports or runways, consult the Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). Check for any missing runway or beacon lights, neighbouring towers, etc.
  • Pick your flight route carefully. The nearest airports (and terrain) assume paramount importance in the event of an engine failure.
  • Are there any shorter or blocked fields at the final airport, or are there any other options?


Airspace considerations include:

  • Are the right clothes, water, and survival supplies onboard if the excursion will take place over isolated areas?
  • Could there be a loss of visual references if the route involves flying over water or uninhabited areas? 
  • Are there any airspace or temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) in the area where the flight will be taking place?


Night flying requires special consideration:

  • Will we be flying over ocean or uninhabited areas on the trip?
  • Will the weather allow for a nighttime emergency landing?
  • Is a flashlight accessible that is suitable for use both before and during flight, and are the aircraft lights discovered to be functional during preflight?


E = External Pressures

External pressures are factors outside of the flight that make it feel urgent to finish, frequently at the expense of safety. The following factors can operate as external pressures:

  • Someone who is anticipating the arrival of the flight at the airport.
  • The pilot doesn't want to let down this passenger.
  • The urge to impress someone.
  • The desire to show off one's pilot skills. "Watch this!" is among the two most hazardous words in flying.
  • Having the need to complete a certain personal objective (also known as "get-home-itis," "get-there-itis," and "let's-go-itis").
  • The general goal-completion orientation of the pilot.

The emotional strain brought on by realizing that a pilot's ability and experience levels might not be as high as they would like them to be. An extremely potent external component is pride!

Because it is the only risk factor category that has the potential to make a pilot disregard all other risk factors, managing external pressure is the single most crucial element of risk management. The majority of accidents include external pressures that place time-related pressure on the pilot.

One strategy for managing outside demands is to adopt personal standard operating procedures (SOPs). The purpose is to provide a release for the flight's external forces. These steps include, but are not restricted to:

Allocate time throughout a flight for an additional fuel stop or to make an unforeseen landing due to weather.

  • Make backup airline bookings for trips where you absolutely must be there or have backup preparations in case of a tardy arrival.
  • Plan to leave early enough to allow adequate time to drive to the destination when taking crucial trips.
  • Let people know that the arrival may be delayed if they are waiting at the destination. Know how to let them know when there are delays.
  • Manage the expectations of the passengers. Make sure passengers understand that although they may not be on time consistently, if they must there by a specific time, they may make other arrangements.
  • Carrying a small overnight kit with prescriptions, contact lens solutions, toiletries, or other requirements on every travel will help you avoid feeling pressurised to come home, even on a casual day flight.

Being prepared for and accepting delays is essential for managing external pressure. Keep in mind that delays happen whether you're going by bus, vehicle, or aeroplane. The pilot's objective is to control risk, not to introduce dangers.

Decisions on situations involving interactions between the four risk elements—PIC, aircraft, environment, and external pressures—should be made throughout each flight. To accurately assess the flight situation, the decision-making process entails evaluating each of these risk factors.

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