Lack of Communication
In the airshow world this concern was mostly from the pilot not communicating with others or the show not communicating with the performers. If there is a problem with the equipment or person (remember the acronym IMSAFE), it has to be clearly communicated what is going on. This happened at a flying job, where a normally whiny pilot, was doing his normal complaining, when this time it was a serious health concern. The problem was he didn’t communicate it any differently then his normal disgruntled mood.
‘The show must go on” is not the mentality to be used in aviation.
Lack of Teamwork
A great example is the upcoming WGC. The last of the US team arrived on July 1st in Poland. This group of pilots is pretty good about being a team, and using their team appropriately. However teams in the past have not worked out as well and there are examples of pilots not getting along with their captains, crew, or teammates. It becomes very difficult to work as a team when one pilot is not sharing information. It leads to distrust and a complete breakdown of the team. With a team there can be delegation of tasks reducing the stress and workload for everyone.
Flying isn’t stressful, it is just a relaxing, enjoyable, low work load, cruising through the sky under the clouds experience… Who am I kidding? Flying can be very stressful. Stress can come from a short flight, worrying about the crosswind. I see with students that it takes a while to calm back down after a takeoff, especially if it was one that was less than ideal. Their shoulders are raised to their ears, death grip on the stick, and pouring sweat down the side of their face. Stress can come from outside of flying also. It is what you bring with you in the cockpit.
Just because that is what is always done does not make it safe. Flying outside of the design envelope is one thing that comes to mind. A very unfortunate example of this is final glides and finishes. It was common at a WGC to be in ground effect a few miles short of the airport. However when tree lines, roads, hedges, houses and pedestrians were in the path it became fatal. It was normal for groups of photographers to line up on the path the sailplanes would be coming along.
The rope won’t break. When was the last time it broke on you? Tom Knauff would say you have a 50/50 chance of it breaking, which statically might not be accurate. However a few weeks ago a student and instructor had a break below 200 feet and they landed straight ahead in the next field. About 45 min later they were walking the wing back to the launch point. I tell my students to be surprised when the rope does not break.
Giving your checklists ‘lip service’ vs actually doing them is another form of complacency. We have all watched this happen. Examples include someone landing downwind and not realizing it, landing gear up, landing in the wrong flap setting, the canopy opening inflight, etc.
Lack of Knowledge
This does not just apply to a low time pilot. A lack of knowledge can apply to all phases of flight and all experience levels. It could be a miscalculation of winds aloft resulting in a landout. It could be a high time pilot reading the weather wrong and causing an accident. It could be like last weekend when a pilot returned because his vario was in a settings mode and could not get the vario to work properly. It could be someone at a contest who did not understand the rules and loses points as a result. Not knowing the scoring formula on a turn area task once resulted in me landing out vs being undertime.
Where do we begin? We are surrounded by distractions. Distractions at home might not let you concentrate on flying. Distractions in the cockpit can vary from 2-seater flying, instruments, catheter failures, etc. Another issue is traffic in the air around you and on the ground. I have had students lawn-dart their landing because they were distracted by another aircraft on the runway. I had a gear-up skip once because the gear was not locked. I am going to blame it on my preoccupation with the nearby thunderstorm.
Banner Photo: Mika Ganszauge
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