Roll The Trucks
I’ve declared emergency 3 times in my 20 years in the Pt. 135 business. Twice as PIC with smoke in cabin and once as SIC with flap failure. Never once did I get asked to file a report even though the trucks were rolled. Of course, my chief pilot handled reports to the POI. All three times the flight ended without bent metal or anyone getting hurt. I have even asked on two occasions to have the fire trucks stand by when refueling a medical flight due to the large medical O2 tanks in the airplane. I guess the moral to the story is don’t be afraid to ask for help, it could be a lifesaver.
As strange as it seems, some pilots hesitate to declare an emergency because they fear red tape and bureaucracy. As a controller for 40 years, I have worked my share of emergencies, from a rough-running engine to an off-field landing, and NONE required a pilot to fill out paperwork. The process is deliberately made simple in order to encourage pilots to declare when they have an issue, and not worry about paperwork. There may be a FSDO investigation later if there are injuries or substantial damage, but the local tower or radar room isn’t involved. Don’t hesitate, if you need resources, there is only one way to get them. Talk.
When Safety Cultures Stumble
Welcome to the “spoil sport” club. The bad news is that we keep doing the same things that lead to accidents. The good news is that we keep doing the same things that lead to accidents–so by learning from accident history we at least have the opportunity to address real-world accident causes to prevent recurrences.
This points to one of the challenges of aviation safety: We use air shows, aerobatics and media portrayals of aviation stunts as our primary recruiting tool for new pilots who do not already have some access to aviation (through a family member, etc.). Then we must constantly tell those pilots, “You know those things we showed you about how flying is so cool and fun? Don’t do them.”
Keep providing the great insights, Paul.
Analyzing and reporting aviation accidents is a very effective and useful tool in preventing more accidents, when pilots use the information and – yes – wisdom contained. But like any tool it’s not 100% effective, and some pilots will still perform stupid pilot tricks, fail to manage risk, respond inappropriately to surprises, get caught in weather, etc. even though most if not all of these not-so-amazingly similar circumstances have appeared in analyses and reports over the years. So maybe analysis and reporting, as a single tool in the box, is working as well as it’s gonna work. Personally I think that’s a good enough reason to continue doing it.
There is a portion of the pilot population that is immune to any safety messages. IMHO, the window to move the safety needle is in the first few hundred hours. I firmly believe that good pilot decision making is a teachable skill, but it has to be inculcated early, otherwise the bad habits will become solidified.
Personally the yellow stripe down my back gets bigger every year but I can certainly look back at some in flight “decisions” that I made in my younger days that I would not do today. However they were a product of the “giver” culture that was pretty endemic 30 years ago. I do think that that we are having conversations around risk that simply would never have happened in the “good old days.”
Poll: Do You Adhere To Personal Minimums?
- Yes, I have personal minimums, but there are too many factors to just have a hard number. What angle is the wind at? How familiar am I with the area? What is the terrain like? What about the airport I’m going too? What sort of aircraft am I flying? Anyone who just has hard numbers as minimums isn’t a thoughtful pilot.
- Trends are important with personal minimums. Is the weather within my limits and improving? I’ll go. Getting worse? Maybe not.
- ALL minimums are “personal”—government may set THEIR minimums, but we set our own based on conditions TODAY. What I DON’T subscribe to is otherwise qualified pilots who set IFR minimums to almost VFR conditions, in the belief they are “safer.” Watch these same people sweat when the weather is WORSE than forecast. FAA designs the approaches to be safe AS FLOWN—there is no reason it is “safer” to set higher minimums–unless you are not proficient–(In which case you should be getting some dual instruction to regain proficiency AND your confidence). As long as you have a reasonable “out”—FLY IT!
- Personal minimums can and should be fluid. The important thing is deciding on them before external pressures have a chance to influence them.
- I use the published minimums on the plate. In a single, I use higher minimums when doing preflight planning, but once I am in the system or flying an approach, I’ll follow the book. Psychologically I know what the “real” answer is, and when the decision is called for, I don’t want to have to consider a different self-created set of numbers because that feels higher risk.
- I fly down to published minimums and abide by the aircraft limitations.
- Depends on quality of equipment flying.
- No. I am proficient and adhere to FAA minimums and SOPs.
- Winds – depends on the aircraft. Ceiling and visibility – FAA minimums are my personal minimums.
- POH limitations and Approach mins.
- If there is CBs (lines) in the forecast I don’t fly, freezing level at or lower than MSA.
- Yes! Ceiling, wind, viz, IMSAFE, and every other dang acronym that we’ve come up with!
- FAA regulatory minimums.
- Personal minimums are not flexible enough to capture the reality of flying.
- I follow company minimums.
- My personal minimums are the published ones. if I’m not comfortable with them it’s time for training and practice until I am.
- Beyond the standard, I have a requirement for passengers. They can’t be drunk, drugged, sick, or nervous to fly.
- No personal minimums, just the approach mins.
- I use published minimums but combine them with wind, turbulence, icing to make final decision.
- Situational; e.g., no low IFR at night, no IFR if I don’t feel 100%, no mountains with wind over 25 kts but avoid the rotors.
- Yes, for every aspect of the flight.
- I adhere to published minimums. Period.
- Wind and icing.
- It very often depends on the distance and mission and purpose of my flight.
- Fly to the company SOP max/mins or the aircraft flight manual max.
- All parameters pertaining to flight.
- I evaluate all aspects then make a determination based on aircraft and goals of the flight.
- Part 121/company mins are my mins. They would fire me if I didn’t land in 38 xwind or shoot an ILS to mins.
- Varies by airport.
- Yes, but on a flight-by-flight basis.
- I remain within the minimums of the approach and/or the limitations of the aircraft.
- Personal Minimums are too rigid to be useful.
- Whatever it says in the AFM or POH.
- Ceiling is not required by Part 97. So, visibility (or RVR) and surface wind.
- I expect to fly to the minimums when required.
- Depends on terrain and route. One route it’s 2800’ ceilings another it’s just down to 1000’. Maybe this qualifies as no minimums?
- Must be reasonable, and legal.
- Like any reasonable sentient human, I evaluate each situation on its own merits.
- What kind of bonehead doesn’t adhere to some kind of personal minimums??