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Pilots Checklists And Safety Tips

Pilots Checklists And Safety TipsAll pilots have been taught the importance of using written checklists, but a few ignore this flight safety resource. The FAA’s practical test standards clearly state that pilots must use appropriate written checklists, yet the accident record shows that some pilots don’t. Such actions can yield dire results.

Pilots who believe in checklists usually use flow patterns and mental checklists to prepare an airplane for a specific task; they then back up those actions with the appropriate written checklist. If I see a pilot ignore the written checklist, I always ask why. The answer is usually related to aircraft familiarity, inconvenience, or workload. No matter the reason, failing to use the checklist is a mistake. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Traditionally, written checklists are designed to be carried out from beginning to end all at once. Segmented checklists, however, are constructed so that specific segments are completed at appropriate times. This yields operational flexibility, making it more convenient to use the checklist. The before-takeoff and before-landing checklists adapt well to this concept.

The segmented checklist enhances your ability to manage the cockpit and comply with standard operating procedures. Many a pilot has avoided embarrassment, not to mention a possible accident, because he or she used the written checklist properly.

Before-Takeoff Checklist
  • Auxiliary fuel pump — Off
  • Flight controls — Free and correct
  • Instruments and radios — Checked and set
  • Landing gear position lights — Checked
  • Altimeter — Set
  • Directional gyro — Set
  • Fuel gauges — Checked
  • Trim — Set
  • Propeller — Exercise
  • Magnetos — Checked
  • Engine idle — checked
  • Flaps — As required
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses — Fastened
  • Parking brake — Off
  • Final items
  • Doors and windows — Locked
  • Mixture — Full rich unless above 3,000 feet msl
  • Lights — Landing, taxi, strobes on
  • Camera — Transponder on
  • Action — Engine instruments checked
Before-Landing Checklist
  • Fuel selector — Fullest tank
  • Directional gyro — Aligned with magnetic compass
  • Seat belts/shoulder harnesses — secure
  • Mixture — Full rich unless airport above 3,000 feet msl
  • Cowl flaps — As required
Final items
  • Landing gear — Down
  • Propeller — High rpm
  • Flaps — As required
FAA Summer Safety Tips For Pilots

As the busy summer flying season kicks off, the FAA is taking a slightly different approach to safety by asking pilots, well, to fly safely.

In an open letter to the general aviation community sent just before the Memorial Day weekend, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta implored aviators to “make sure you’re ready – really ready – to fly.”

“This summer – this flying season – we need you to make a personal commitment to understand your strengths and limitations, to use a personal minimums checklist, and make sure you are ready each and every time you fly,” Huerta wrote. “If we make that commitment, then together we’ll reduce fatal accidents.”

The FAA and NTSB have voiced their growing frustration over the fact that the general aviation fatal accident rate has stayed the same over the past five years despite efforts to improve safety. So far this fiscal year, 149 fatal accidents have claimed the lives of 262 people, FAA officials note.

“We cannot become complacent about safety,” Huerta said. “Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower.”

Huerta’s suggestions for general aviation pilots this summer include:

  • flying with an instructor to brush up on your skills;
  • paying special attention to the weather and being willing to fly another day if the conditions are beyond your capabilities;
  • talking with fellow pilots about safety as often as you can to help instill a community-wide safety culture;
  • intervening if you see someone else doing something unsafe.

That’s the short-term fix for now. As a long-term solution, Huerta has called on the aviation community to install life-saving equipment, including angle of attack indicators, inflatable restraints and two-axis autopilots in existing GA airplanes. The FAA is also overhauling training and testing standards to bring them up to date with current technology while incorporating risk-management and decision-making skills.

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Distributed by Viestly

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