Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
  Home | Login | Schedule | Pilot Store | 7-Day IFR | IFR Adventure | Trip Reports | Blog | Fun | Reviews | Weather | Articles | Links | Helicopter | Download | Bio

Site Map


Private Pilot
  Learn to Fly

Instrument Pilot
  7 day IFR Rating
  IFR Adventure

Commercial Pilot

Multi-Engine Pilot

Human Factors/CRM

Recurrent Training

Ground Schools


Privacy Policy
About Me


Support this Website

Call to Action: Threats to Safety

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
General Aviation Human Factors, May, 2007
CFIDarren Newsletter, March 8, 2011
Navigation:  Fundamentals of CRM | Resolving Conflict | Workload Management | Checklist Usage | Briefings & Callouts | Training CRM | Threats to Safety | Intro to TEMError Management | Integrating Threat & Error Management | TEM Countermeasures | FOTA | What are you doing over there? | New Captain Series | CRM Series | Professionalism

TEM Series:  Threats to Safety | Unsafe Acts | Intro to TEM | Error Management | Integrating TEM | Countermeasures

Sometimes I just want to go out and fly.  No structure, no TFR briefing, no flight plan, no student, nothing specific to do.  I just want a CAVU day, a full tank, and a few spare hours to go out and fly low and slow. 

Whoa wait a minute.  No structure? No briefing? No planning?  Maybe I'm referring to the carefree days of 1976 when flying was relatively carefree and we were naive about some of the threats to safety.  Just think about today's pressures, struggles, and distractions.  We're only human, so we're taking these into the cockpit.

Consider these threats to safely conducting a flight:
Threats pilots face today

Threats are defined as "events that occur beyond the influence of the pilot and increase operational complexity."  Such threats must be managed to maintain the safety margin we consider so critical to flying. These additional complexities certainly involve the factors in the graphic above, but also include errors that others make which affect your flight.

These threats are a natural part of life and a natural part of flying.  These overt threats to flying safety come from people inside or outside your cockpit, or they are factors that affect your life and flying.  What's so dangerous about these threats is that they affect our ability to fly without giving us the chance to consider the consequences.  As such, these threats to safety can easily factor into the chain of errors leading up to the accident.  Threats do not necessarily lead you directly to an error although they could.  Consider threats as red flags which should increase your situational awareness.

Avoiding threats is the key to preventing these threats to flight safety from becoming errors that would take more effort to fix.  While we will talk more about this in the next article, there are simple avoidance tactics you can use to increase safety during your next flight.
  1. Stay current with your landings, particularly your crosswind technique, following the VASI (for a stabilized approach) and the all important go-around.
  2. Practice your hood skills with a competent CFII that can pull some of the latest tricks on you to improve your IFR skills.  Read my article on IFR Risk Management.
  3. Prevent runway incursions by simple use of a taxiway diagram.  Read more in my article on runway incursions.
  4. Be conservative in your decisionmaking.  Use the Personal Minimums Checklist(download).  Read my article on 
    Making Safe Choices and Flying Discipline.
  5. Use good communications techniques and standard phraseology.  Read the articles on: Radio Communications - Non Towered Airports and Ten Tips to Immediately Improve Your Radio Technique and ATC's Top 9 Pet Peeves  and General Tips on Radio Communications.  Phew!
  6. Develop the "right stuff."   Read: Characteristics of Successful Pilots and 15 Things Pilots Must Learn and How do we rate pilots? and Things Your Flight Instructor Wish You Knew.
  7. Manage distractions by prioritizing and use of sterile cockpit procedures.
I don't mean to load you up with a lot of anxiety, but we've got to start thinking in a new way to avoid the most persistent accidents.  I know you'll be busy reading the articles above, but after you have, continue on with this series. 

Next: Introduction to Threat & Error Management>>

Your Thoughts...

Name: (Anonymous posts deleted)

E-mail: (if you want a reply)

How did you hear
of this website?
Message:  (What should I write?)
Business Card
News Group
Safety Seminar
Word of Mouth
(Required) Enter number from image to send:


Check this out...
   Home | Login | Schedule | Pilot Store | 7-Day IFR | IFR Adventure | Trip Reports | Blog | Fun | Reviews | Weather | Articles | Links | Helicopter | Download | Bio
All content is Copyright 2002-2010 by Darren Smith. All rights reserved. Subject to change without notice. This website is not a substitute for competent flight instruction. There are no representations or warranties of any kind made pertaining to this service/information and any warranty, express or implied, is excluded and disclaimed including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Under no circumstances or theories of liability, including without limitation the negligence of any party, contract, warranty or strict liability in tort, shall the website creator/author or any of its affiliated or related organizations be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages as a result of the use of, or the inability to use, any information provided through this service even if advised of the possibility of such damages. For more information about this website, including the privacy policy, see about this website.