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Aviation Instructors Handbook | Chapter 9

In this chapter, the demonstration-performance method is applied to the telling-and-doing technique of flight instruction, as well as the integrated technique of flight instruction. This chapter also discusses positive exchange of flight controls, use of distractions, obstacles to learning encountered during flight training, and provides an overall orientation for teaching aeronautical decision making (ADM) and judgment.

THE TELLING-AND-DOING TECHNIQUE

This technique has been in use for a long time and is very effective in teaching physical skills. Flight instructors find it valuable in teaching procedures and maneuvers. The telling-and-doing technique is actually a variation of the demonstration-performance method. It follows the four steps of demonstration performance discussed in Chapter 5, except for the first step. In the telling-and-doing technique, the first step is preparation. This is particularly important in flight instruction because of the introduction of new maneuvers or procedures.

The flight instructor needs to be well prepared and highly organized if complex maneuvers and procedures are to be taught effectively. The student must be intellectually and psychologically ready for the learning activity. The preparation step is accomplished prior to the flight lesson with a discussion of lesson objectives and completion standards, as well as a thorough preflight briefing. Students need to know not only what they will learn, but also how they will learn it—that is, how the lesson will proceed and how they will be evaluated. The preparation phase also should include coverage of appropriate safety procedures.

INSTRUCTOR TELLS—INSTRUCTOR DOES

Presentation is the second step in the teaching process. It is a continuation of preparing the student, which began in the detailed preflight discussion, and now continues by a carefully planned demonstration and accompanying verbal explanation of the procedure or maneuver. While demonstrating inflight maneuvers, the instructor should explain the required power settings, aircraft attitudes, and describe any other pertinent factors that may apply. This is the only step in which the student plays a passive role. It is important that the demonstration conforms to the explanation as closely as possible. In addition, it should be demonstrated in the same sequence in which it was explained so as to avoid confusion and provide reinforcement. Since students generally imitate the instructor’s performance, the instructor must demonstrate the skill exactly the way the students are expected to practice it, including all safety procedures that the students must follow. If a deviation does occur, the instructor should point it out and discuss any differences from the initial explanation.

Most physical skills lend themselves to a sequential pattern where the skill is explained in the same stepby-step order normally used to perform it. When the skill being taught is related to previously learned procedures or maneuvers, the known to unknown strategy may be used effectively. When teaching more than one skill at the same time, the simple-to-complex strategy works well. By starting with the simplest skill, a student gains confidence and is less likely to become frustrated when faced with building skills that are more complex.

Another consideration in this phase is the language used. Instructors should attempt to avoid unnecessary jargon and technical terms that are over the heads of their students. Instructors should also take care to clearly describe the actions that students are expected to perform. Communication is the key. It is neither appropriate nor effective for instructors to try to impress students with their expertise by using language that is unnecessarily complicated.

As an example, a level turn might be demonstrated and described by the instructor in the following way:

  • Use outside visual references and monitor the flight instruments.

     

  • After clearing the airspace around the airplane, add power slightly, turn the airplane in the desired direction, and apply a slight amount of back pressure on the yoke to maintain altitude. Maintain coordinated flight by applying rudder in the direction of the turn.

     

  • Remember, the ailerons control the roll rate, as well as the angle of bank. The rate at which the airplane rolls depends on how much aileron deflection you use. How far the airplane rolls (steepness of the bank) depends on how long you deflect the ailerons, since the airplane continues to roll as long as the ailerons are deflected. When you reach the desired angle of bank, neutralize the ailerons and trim, as appropriate.

     

  • Lead the roll-out by approximately one-half the number of degrees of your angle of bank. Use coordinated aileron and rudder control pressures as you roll out. Simultaneously, begin releasing the back pressure so aileron, rudder, and elevator pressures are neutralized when the airplane reaches the wings-level position.

     

  • Leading the roll-out heading by one-half your bank angle is a good rule of thumb for initial training. However, keep in mind that the required amount of lead really depends on the type of turn, turn rate, and roll-out rate. As you gain experience, you will develop a consistent roll-in and roll-out technique for various types of turns. Upon reaching a wings-level attitude, reduce power and trim to remove control pressures.

     

STUDENT TELLS—INSTRUCTOR DOES

This is a transition between the second and third steps in the teaching process. It is the most obvious departure from the demonstration-performance technique, and may provide the most significant advantages. In this step, the student actually plays the role of instructor, telling the instructor what to do and how to do it. Two benefits accrue from this step. First, being freed from the need to concentrate on performance of the maneuver and from concern about its outcome, the student should be able to organize his or her thoughts regarding the steps involved and the techniques to be used. In the process of explaining the maneuver as the instructor performs it, perceptions begin to develop into insights. Mental habits begin to form with repetition of the instructions previously received. Second, with the student doing the talking, the instructor is able to evaluate the student’s understanding of the factors involved in performance of the maneuver.

According to the principle of primacy, it is important for the instructor to make sure the student gets it right the first time. The student should also understand the correct sequence and be aware of safety precautions for each procedure or maneuver. If a misunderstanding exists, it can be corrected before the student becomes absorbed in controlling the airplane.

STUDENT TELLS—STUDENT DOES

Application is the third step in the teaching process. This is where learning takes place and where performance habits are formed. If the student has been adequately prepared (first step) and the procedure or maneuver fully explained and demonstrated (second step), meaningful learning will occur. The instructor should be alert during the student’s practice to detect any errors in technique and to prevent the formation of faulty habits.

At the same time, the student should be encouraged to think about what to do during the performance of a maneuver, until it becomes habitual. In this step, the thinking is done verbally. This focuses concentration on the task to be accomplished, so that total involvement in the maneuver is fostered. All of the student’s physical and mental faculties are brought into play. The instructor should be aware of the student’s thought processes. It is easy to determine whether an error is induced by a misconception or by a simple lack of motor skills. Therefore, in addition to forcing total concentration on the part of the student, this method provides a means for keeping the instructor aware of what the student is thinking. The student is not only learning to do something, but he or she is learning a self-teaching process that is highly desirable in development of a skill.

The exact procedures that the instructor should use during student practice depends on factors such as the student’s proficiency level, the type of maneuver, and the stage of training. The instructor must exercise good judgment to decide how much control to use. With potentially hazardous or difficult maneuvers, the instructor should be alert and ready to take control at any time. This is especially true during a student’s first attempt at a particular maneuver. On the other hand, if a student is progressing normally, the instructor should avoid unnecessary interruptions or too much assistance.

A typical test of how much control is needed often occurs during a student’s first few attempts to land an aircraft. The instructor must quickly evaluate the student’s need for help, and not hesitate to take control, if required. At the same time, the student should be allowed to practice the entire maneuver often enough to achieve the level of proficiency established in the lesson objectives. Since this is a learning phase rather than an evaluation phase of the training, errors or unsafe practices should be identified and corrected in a positive and timely way. In some cases, the student will not be able to meet the proficiency level specified in the lesson objectives within the allotted time. When this occurs, the instructor should be prepared to schedule additional training.

STUDENT DOES—INSTRUCTOR EVALUATES

The fourth step of the teaching process is review and evaluation. In this step, the instructor reviews what has been covered during the instructional flight and determines to what extent the student has met the objectives outlined during the preflight discussion. Since the student no longer is required to talk through the maneuver during this step, the instructor should be satisfied that the student is well prepared and understands the task before starting. This last step is identical to the final step used in the demonstration-performance method. The instructor observes as the student performs, then makes appropriate comments.

At the conclusion of the evaluation phase, record the student’s performance and verbally advise each student of the progress made toward the objectives. Regardless of how well a skill is taught, there may still be failures. Since success is a motivating factor, instructors should be positive in revealing results. When pointing out areas that need improvement, offer concrete suggestions that will help. If possible, avoid ending the evaluation on a negative note.

In summary, the telling and doing technique of flight instruction follows the four basic steps of the teaching process and the demonstration-performance method. However, the telling-and-doing technique includes specific variations for flight instruction. [figure 9-1]

INTEGRATED FLIGHT INSTRUCTION

Integrated flight instruction is flight instruction during which students are taught to perform flight maneuvers both by outside visual references and by reference to flight instruments. For this type of instruction to be fully effective, the use of instrument references should begin the first time each new maneuver is introduced. No distinction in the pilot’s operation of the flight controls is permitted, regardless of whether outside references or instrument indications are used for the performance of the maneuver. When this training technique is used, instruction in the control of an airplane by outside visual references is integrated with instruction in the use of flight instrument indications for the same operations.

DEVELOPMENT OF HABIT PATTERNS

The continuing observance and reliance upon flight instruments is essential for efficient, safe operations. The habit of monitoring instruments is difficult to develop after one has become accustomed to relying almost exclusively on outside references.

General aviation accident reports provide ample support for the belief that reference to flight instruments is important to safety. The safety record of pilots who hold instrument ratings is significantly better than that of pilots with comparable flight time who have never received formal flight training for an instrument rating. Student pilots who have been required to perform all normal flight maneuvers by reference to instruments, as well as by outside references, will develop from the start the habit of continuously monitoring their own and the airplane’s performance.

The early establishment of proper habits of instrument cross-check, instrument interpretation, and aircraft control will be highly useful to the student pilot. The habits formed at this time also will give the student a firm foundation for later training for an instrument rating.

ACCURACY OF FLIGHT CONTROL

During early experiments with the integrated technique of flight instruction, it was soon recognized that students trained in this manner are much more precise in their flight maneuvers and operations. This applies to all flight operations, not just when flight by reference to instruments is required.

Notable among student achievements are better monitoring of power settings and more accurate control of headings, altitudes, and airspeeds. As the habit of monitoring their own performance by reference to instruments is developed, students will begin to make corrections without prompting.

The habitual attention to instrument indications leads to improved landings because of more precise airspeed control. Effective use of instruments also results in superior cross-country navigation, better coordination, and generally, a better overall pilot competency level.

OPERATING EFFICIENCY

As student pilots become more proficient in monitoring and correcting their own flight technique by reference to flight instruments, the performance obtained from an airplane increases noticeably. This is particularly true of modern, complex, or high-performance airplanes, which are responsive to the use of correct operating airspeeds.

The use of correct power settings and climb speeds and the accurate control of headings during climbs result in a measurable increase in climb performance. Holding precise headings and altitudes in cruising flight will definitely increase average cruising performance.

The use of integrated flight instruction provides the student with the ability to control an airplane in flight for limited periods if outside references are lost. This ability could save the pilot’s life and those of the passengers in an actual emergency.

During the conduct of integrated flight training, the flight instructor must emphasize to the students that the introduction to the use of flight instruments does not prepare them for operations in marginal weather or instrument meteorological conditions. The possible consequences, both to themselves and to others, of experiments with flight operations in weather conditions below VFR minimums before they are instrument rated, should be constantly impressed on the students.

PROCEDURES

The conduct of integrated flight instruction is simple. The student’s first briefing on the function of the flight controls should include the instrument indications to be expected, as well as the outside references which should be used to control the attitude of the airplane.

Each new flight maneuver should be introduced using both outside references and instrument references. Students should develop the ability to maneuver an aircraft equally as well by instrument or outside references. They naturally accept the fact that the manipulation of the flight controls is identical, regardless of which references are used to determine the attitude of the airplane. This practice should continue throughout the student’s flight instruction for all maneuvers. To fully achieve the demonstrated benefits of this type of training, the use of visual and instrument references must be constantly integrated throughout the training. Failure to do so will lengthen the flight instruction necessary for the student to achieve the competency required for a private pilot certificate.

PRECAUTIONS

The instructor must be sure that the students develop, from the start of their training, the habit of looking for other air traffic at all times. If students are allowed to believe that the instructor assumes all responsibility for scanning and collision avoidance procedures, they will not develop the habit of maintaining a constant vigilance, which is essential to safety. Any observed tendency of a student to enter flight maneuvers without first making a careful check for other air traffic must be corrected immediately.

In earlier stages of training, students may find it easier to perform flight maneuvers by instruments than by outside references. The fact that students can perform better by reference to instruments may cause them to concentrate most of their attention on the instruments, when they should be using outside references. This must not be allowed to continue, since it will cause considerable difficulty later in training while maneuvering by reference to ground objects. This tendency will also limit vigilance for other air traffic. The instructor should carefully observe the student’s performance of maneuvers during the early stages of integrated flight instruction to ensure that this habit does not develop.

During the conduct of integrated flight instruction, the instructor should make it clear that the use of instruments is being taught to prepare students to accurately monitor their own and their aircraft’s performance. The instructor must avoid any indication, by word or action that the proficiency sought is intended solely for use in difficult weather situations.

FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR QUALIFICATIONS

As a prerequisite, a flight instructor must be thoroughly familiar with the functions, characteristics, and proper use of all standard flight instruments. It is the personal responsibility of each flight instructor to maintain familiarity with current pilot training techniques and certification requirements. This may be done by frequent review of new periodicals and technical publications, personal contacts with FAA inspectors and designated pilot examiners, and by participation in pilot and flight instructor clinics. The application of outmoded instructional procedures, or the preparation of student pilots using obsolete certification requirements is inexcusable.

OBSTACLES TO LEARNING DURING FLIGHT INSTRUCTION

Certain obstacles are common to flight instruction and may apply directly to the student’s attitude, physical condition, and psychological make-up. These are included in the following list:

  • Feeling of unfair treatment;

     

  • Impatience to proceed to more interesting operations;

     

  • Worry or lack of interest;

     

  • Physical discomfort, illness, and fatigue;

     

  • Apathy due to inadequate instruction; and

     

  • Anxiety.

     

UNFAIR TREATMENT

Students who believe that their instruction is inadequate, or that their efforts are not conscientiously considered and evaluated, will not learn well. In addition, their motivation will suffer no matter how intent they are on learning to fly. Motivation will also decline when a student believes the instructor is making unreasonable demands for performance and progress. [figure 9-2]

Assignment of goals that the student considers difficult, but possible, usually provides a challenge, and promotes learning. In a typical flight lesson, reasonable goals are listed in the lesson objectives and the desired levels of proficiency for the goals are included in statements that contain completion standards.

IMPATIENCE

Impatience is a greater deterrent to learning pilot skills than is generally recognized. With a flight student, this may take the form of a desire to make an early solo flight, or to set out on cross-country flights before the basic elements of flight have been learned.

The impatient student fails to understand the need for preliminary training and seeks only the ultimate objective without considering the means necessary to reach it. With every complex human endeavor, it is necessary to master the basics if the whole task is to be performed competently and safely. The instructor can correct student impatience by presenting the necessary preliminary training one step at a time, with clearly stated goals for each step. The procedures and elements mastered in each step should be clearly identified in explaining or demonstrating the performance of the subsequent step.

Impatience can result from instruction keyed to the pace of a slow learner when it is applied to a motivated, fast learner. It is just as important that a student be advanced to the subsequent step as soon as one goal has been attained, as it is to complete each step before the next one is undertaken. Disinterest grows rapidly when unnecessary repetition and drill are required on operations that have already been adequately learned.

WORRY OR LACK OF INTEREST

Worry or lack of interest has a detrimental effect on learning. Students who are worried or emotionally upset are not ready to learn and derive little benefit from instruction. Worry or distraction may be due to student concerns about progress in the training course, or may stem from circumstances completely unrelated to their instruction. Significant emotional upsets may be due to personal problems, psychiatric disturbances, or a dislike of the training program or the instructor.

The experiences of students outside their training activities affect their behavior and performance in training; the two cannot be separated. When students begin flight training, they bring with them their interests, enthusiasms, fears, and troubles. The instructor cannot be responsible for these outside diversions, but cannot ignore them because they have a critical effect on the learning process. Instruction must be keyed to the utilization of the interests and enthusiasm students bring with them, and to diverting their attention from their worries and troubles to the learning tasks at hand. This is admittedly difficult, but must be accomplished if learning is to proceed at a normal rate.

Worries and emotional upsets that result from a flight training course can be identified and addressed. These problems are often due to inadequacies of the course or of the instructor. The most effective cure is prevention. The instructor must be alert to see that the students understand the objectives of each step of their training, and that they know at the completion of each lesson exactly how well they have progressed and what deficiencies are apparent. Discouragement and emotional upsets are rare when students feel that nothing is being withheld from them or is being neglected in their training.

PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT, ILLNESS, AND FATIGUE

Physical discomfort, illness, and fatigue will materially slow the rate of learning during both classroom instruction and flight training. Students who are not completely at ease, and whose attention is diverted by discomforts such as the extremes of temperature, poor ventilation, inadequate lighting, or noise and confusion, cannot learn at a normal rate. This is true no matter how diligently they attempt to apply themselves to the learning task.

A minor illness, such as a cold, or a major illness or injury will interfere with the normal rate of learning. This is especially important for flight instruction. Most illnesses adversely affect the acuteness of vision, hearing, and feeling, all of which are essential to correct performance.

Airsickness can be a great deterrent to flight instruction. A student who is airsick, or bothered with incipient airsickness, is incapable of learning at a normal rate. There is no sure cure for airsickness, but resistance or immunity can be developed in a relatively short period of time. An instructional flight should be terminated as soon as incipient sickness is experienced. As the student develops immunity, flights can be increased in length until normal flight periods are practicable.

Keeping students interested and occupied during flight is a deterrent to airsickness. They are much less apt to become airsick while operating the controls themselves. Rough air and unexpected abrupt maneuvers tend to increase the chances of airsickness. Tension and apprehension apparently contribute to airsickness and should be avoided.

The detection of student fatigue is important to efficient flight instruction. This is important both in assessing a student’s substandard performance early in a lesson, and also in recognizing the deterioration of performance. Once fatigue occurs as a result of application to a learning task, the student should be given a break in instruction and practice. Fatigue can be delayed by introducing a number of maneuvers, which involve different elements and objectives.

Fatigue is the primary consideration in determining the length and frequency of flight instruction periods. The amount of training, which can be absorbed by one student without incurring debilitating fatigue, does not necessarily indicate the capacity of another student. Fatigue which results from training operations may be either physical or mental, or both. It is not necessarily a function of physical robustness or mental acuity. Generally speaking, complex operations tend to induce fatigue more rapidly than simpler procedures do, regardless of the physical effort involved. Flight instruction should be continued only as long as the student is alert, receptive to instruction, and is performing at a level consistent with experience.

APATHY DUE TO INADEQUATE INSTRUCTION

Students quickly become apathetic when they recognize that the instructor has made inadequate preparations for the instruction being given, or when the instruction appears to be deficient, contradictory, or insincere. To hold the student’s interest and to maintain the motivation necessary for efficient learning, well-planned, appropriate, and accurate instruction must be provided. Nothing destroys a student’s interest so quickly as a poorly organized period of instruction. Even an inexperienced student realizes immediately when the instructor has failed to prepare a lesson. [figure 9-3]

must teach for the level of the student. The presentation must be adjusted to be meaningful to the person for whom it is intended. For example, instruction in the preflight inspection of an aircraft should be presented quite differently for a student who is a skilled aircraft maintenance technician compared to the instruction on the same operation for a student with no previous aeronautical experience. The inspection desired in each case is the same, but a presentation meaningful to one of these students would be inappropriate for the other.

Poor instructional presentations may result not only from poor preparation, but also from distracting mannerisms, personal untidiness, or the appearance of irritation with the student. Creating the impression of talking down to the student is one of the surest ways for an instructor to lose the student’s confidence and attention. Once the instructor loses this confidence, it is difficult to regain, and the learning rate is unnecessarily diminished.

ANXIETY

Anxiety may place additional burdens on the instructor. This frequently limits the student’s perceptive ability and retards the development of insights. The student must be comfortable, confident in the instructor and the aircraft, and at ease, if effective learning is to occur. Providing this atmosphere for learning is one of the first and most important tasks of the instructor. Although doing so may be difficult at first, successive accomplishments of recognizable goals and the avoidance of alarming occurrences or situations will rapidly ease the student’s mind. This is true of all flight students, but special handling by the instructor may be required for students who are obviously anxious or uncomfortable.

POSITIVE EXCHANGE OF FLIGHT CONTROLS

Positive exchange of flight controls is an integral part of flight training. It is especially critical during the telling-and-doing technique of flight instruction. Due to the importance of this subject, the following discussion provides guidance for all pilots, especially student pilots, flight instructors, and pilot examiners, on the recommended procedure to use for the positive exchange of flight controls between pilots when operating an aircraft.

BACKGROUND

Incident/accident statistics indicate a need to place additional emphasis on the exchange of control of an aircraft by pilots. Numerous accidents have occurred due to a lack of communication or misunderstanding as to who actually had control of the aircraft, particularly between students and flight instructors.

Establishing the following procedure during the initial training of students will ensure the formation of a habit pattern that should stay with them throughout their flying careers. They will be more likely to relinquish control willingly and promptly when instructed to do so during flight training.

PROCEDURES

During flight training, there must always be a clear understanding between students and flight instructors of who has control of the aircraft. Prior to flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedure for the exchange of flight controls. A positive three-step process in the exchange of flight controls between pilots is a proven procedure and one that is strongly recommended. When an instructor is teaching a maneuver to a student, the instructor will normally demonstrate the maneuver first, then have the student follow along on the controls during a demonstration and, finally, the student will perform the maneuver with the instructor following along on the controls. [figure 9-4]

figure 9-4. During this procedure, a visual check is recommended to see that the other person actually has the flight controls. When returning the controls to the instructor, the student should follow the same procedure the instructor used when giving control to the student. The student should stay on the controls and keep flying the aircraft until the instructor says, “I have the flight controls.” There should never be any doubt as to who is flying the aircraft.

Flight instructors should always guard the controls and be prepared to take control of the aircraft. When necessary, the instructor should take the controls and calmly announce, “I have the flight controls.” If an instructor allows a student to remain on the controls, the instructor may not have full and effective control of the aircraft. Anxious students can be incredibly strong and usually exhibit reactions inappropriate to the situation. If a recovery is necessary, there is absolutely nothing to be gained by having the student on the controls and having to fight for control of the aircraft.

Students should never be allowed to exceed the flight instructor’s limits. Flight instructors should not exceed their own ability to perceive a problem, decide upon a course of action, and physically react within their ability to fly the aircraft.

USE OF DISTRACTIONS

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics reveal that most stall/spin accidents occured when the pilot’s attention was diverted from the primary task of flying the aircraft. Sixty percent of stall/spin accidents occured during takeoff and landing, and twenty percent were preceded by engine failure. Preoccupation inside or outside the cockpit while changing aircraft configuration or trim, maneuvering to avoid other traffic or clearing hazardous obstacles during takeoff and climb could create a potential stall/spin situation.

The intentional practice of stalls and spins seldom resulted in an accident. The real danger was inadvertent stalls induced by distractions during routine flight situations.

Pilots at all skill levels should be aware of the increased risk of entering into an inadvertent stall or spin while performing tasks that are secondary to controlling the aircraft. The FAA has also established a policy for use of certain distractions on practical tests for pilot certification. The purpose is to determine that applicants possess the skills required to cope with distractions while maintaining the degree of aircraft control required for safe flight. The most effective training is the simulation of scenarios that can lead to inadvertent stalls by creating distractions while the student is practicing certain maneuvers.

The instructor should tell the student to divide his/her attention between the distracting task and maintaining control of the aircraft. The following are examples of distractions that can be used for this training:

  • Drop a pencil. Ask the student to pick it up.

     

  • Ask the student to determine a heading to an airport using a chart.

     

  • Ask the student to reset the clock.

     

  • Ask the student to get something from the back seat.

     

  • Ask the student to read the outside air temperature.

     

  • Ask the student to call the Flight Service Station (FSS) for weather information.

     

  • Ask the student to compute true airspeed with a flight computer.

     

  • Ask the student to identify terrain or objects on the ground.

     

  • Ask the student to identify a field suitable for a forced landing.

     

  • Have the student climb 200 feet and maintain altitude, then descend 200 feet and maintain altitude.

     

  • Have the student reverse course after a series of S-turns.

     

AERONAUTICAL DECISION MAKING

Aeronautical decision making (ADM) is a systematic approach to the mental process used by aircraft pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. The importance of teaching students effective ADM skills can not be overemphasized. The flight instructor can make a difference! While progress is continually being made in the advancement of pilot training methods, aircraft equipment and systems, and services for pilots, accidents still occur. Despite all the changes in technology to improve flight safety, one factor remains the same—the human factor. It is estimated that approximately 75% of all aviation accidents are human factors related.

Historically, the term pilot error has been used to describe the causes of these accidents. Pilot error means that an action or decision made by the pilot was the cause of, or contributing factor which lead to, the accident. This definition also includes the pilot’s failure to make a decision or take action. From a broader perspective, the phrase “human factors related” more aptly describes these accidents since it is usually not a single decision that leads to an accident, but a chain of events triggered by a number of factors.

The poor judgment chain, sometimes referred to as the error chain, is a term used to describe this concept of contributing factors in a human factors related accident. Breaking one link in the chain normally is all that is necessary to change the outcome of the sequence of events. The best way to illustrate this concept to students is to discuss specific situations which lead to aircraft accidents or incidents. The following is an example of the type of scenario which can be presented to students to illustrate the poor judgment chain.

A private pilot, who had logged 100 hours of flight time, made a precautionary landing on a narrow dirt runway at a private airport. The pilot lost directional control during landing and swerved off the runway into the grass. A witness recalled later that the airplane appeared to be too high and fast on final approach, and speculated the pilot was having difficulty controlling the airplane in high winds. The weather at the time of the incident was reported as marginal VFR due to rain showers and thunderstorms. When the airplane was fueled the following morning, 60 gallons of fuel were required to fill the 62-gallon capacity tanks.

By discussing the events that led to this incident, instructors can help students understand how a series of judgmental errors contributed to the final outcome of this flight. For example, one of the first elements that affected the pilot’s flight was a decision regarding the weather. On the morning of the flight, the pilot was running late, and having acquired a computer printout of the forecast the night before, he did not bother to obtain a briefing from flight service before his departure.

A flight planning decision also played a part in this poor judgment chain. The pilot calculated total fuel requirements for the trip based on a rule-of-thumb figure he had used previously for another airplane. He did not use the fuel tables printed in the pilot’s operating handbook for the airplane he was flying on this trip. After reaching his destination, the pilot did not request refueling. Based on his original calculations, he believed sufficient fuel remained for the flight home.

Failing to recognize his own limitations was another factor that led the pilot one step closer to the unfortunate conclusion of his journey. In the presence of deteriorating weather, he departed for the flight home at 5:00 in the afternoon. He did not consider how fatigue and lack of extensive night flying experience could affect the flight. As the flight continued, the weather along the route grew increasingly hazardous. Since the airplane’s fuel supply was almost exhausted, the pilot no longer had the option of diverting to avoid rapidly developing thunderstorms. With few alternatives left, he was forced to land at the nearest airfield available, a small private airport with one narrow dirt runway. Due to the gusty wind conditions and the pilot’s limited experience, the approach and landing were difficult. After touchdown, the pilot lost directional control and the airplane finally came to a stop in the grass several yards to the side of the runway.

On numerous occasions during the flight, the pilot could have made effective decisions which may have prevented this incident. However, as the chain of events unfolded, each poor decision left him with fewer and fewer options. Teaching pilots to make sound decisions is the key to preventing accidents. Traditional pilot instruction has emphasized flying skills, knowledge of the aircraft, and familiarity with regulations. ADM training focuses on the decision-making process and the factors that affect a pilot’s ability to make effective choices.

ORIGINS OF ADM TRAINING

The airlines developed some of the first training programs that focused on improving aeronautical decision making. Human factors-related accidents motivated the airline industry to implement crew resource management (CRM) training for flight crews. The focus of CRM programs is the effective use of all available resources; human resources, hardware, and information. Human resources include all groups routinely working with the cockpit crew (or pilot) who are involved in decisions which are required to operate a flight safely. These groups include, but are not limited to: dispatchers, cabin crewmembers, maintenance personnel, and air traffic controllers. Although the CRM concept originated as airlines developed ways of facilitating crew cooperation to improve decision making in the cockpit, CRM principles, such as workload management, situational awareness, communication, the leadership role of the captain, and crewmember coordination have direct application to the general aviation cockpit. This also includes single pilots since pilots of small aircraft, as well as crews of larger aircraft, must make effective use of all available resources—human resources, hardware, and information.

Crew resource management training has proven extremely successful in reducing accidents, and airlines typically introduce CRM concepts during initial indoctrination of new hires. Instructors in the general aviation environment can learn from this example when conducting ADM training. In the past, some students were introduced to ADM concepts toward the completion of their training or not at all. It is important that these concepts be incorporated throughout the entire training course for all levels of students; private, instrument, commercial, multi-engine, and ATP. Instructors, as well as students, also can refer to AC 60-22, Aeronautical Decision Making, which provides background references, definitions, and other pertinent information about ADM training in the general aviation environ

ment. [figure 9-5]

THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

An understanding of the decision-making process provides students with a foundation for developing ADM skills. Some situations, such as engine failures, require a pilot to respond immediately using established procedures with little time for detailed analysis. Traditionally, pilots have been well trained to react to emergencies, but are not as well prepared to make decisions which require a more reflective response. Typically during a flight, the pilot has time to examine any changes which occur, gather information, and assess risk before reaching a decision. The steps leading to this conclusion constitute the decision-making process. When the decision-making process is presented to students, it is essential to discuss how the process applies to an actual flight situation. To explain the decision-making process, the instructor can introduce the following steps with the accompanying scenario that places the student in the position of making a decision about a typical flight situation.

DEFINING THE PROBLEM

Problem definition is the first step in the decision-making process. Defining the problem begins with recognizing that a change has occurred or that an expected change did not occur. A problem is perceived first by the senses, then is distinguished through insight and experience. These same abilities, as well as an objective analysis of all available information, are used to determine the exact nature and severity of the problem.

One critical error that can be made during the decision-making process is incorrectly defining the problem. For example, failure of a landing-gear-extended light to illuminate could indicate that the gear is not down and locked into place or it could mean the bulb is burned out. The actions to be taken in each of these circumstances would be significantly different. Fixating on a problem that does not exist can divert the pilot’s attention from important tasks. The pilot’s failure to maintain an awareness of the circumstances regarding the flight now becomes the problem. This is why once an initial assumption is made regarding the problem, other sources must be used to verify that the pilot’s conclusion is correct.

While on a cross-country flight, you discover that your time en route between two checkpoints is significantly longer than the time you had originally calculated. By noticing this discrepancy, you have recognized a change. Based on your insight, cross-country flying experience, and your knowledge of weather systems, you consider the possibility that you have an increased headwind. You verify that your original calculations are correct and consider factors which may have lengthened the time between checkpoints, such as a climb or deviation off course. To determine if there is a change in the winds aloft forecast and to check recent pilot reports, you contact Flight Watch. After weighing each information source, you conclude that your headwind has increased. To determine the severity of the problem, you calculate your new groundspeed, and reassess fuel requirements.

CHOOSING A COURSE OF ACTION

After the problem has been identified, the pilot must evaluate the need to react to it and determine the actions which may be taken to resolve the situation in the time available. The expected outcome of each possible action should be considered and the risks assessed before the pilot decides on a response to the situation.

You determine your fuel burn if you continue to your destination, and consider other options, such as turning around and landing at a nearby airport that you have passed, diverting off course, or landing prior to your destination at an airport on your route. You must now consider the expected outcome of each possible action and assess the risks involved. After studying the chart, you conclude that there is an airport which has fueling services within a reasonable distance ahead along your route. You can refuel there and continue to your destination without a significant loss of time.

IMPLEMENTING THE DECISION AND EVALUATING THE OUTCOME

Although a decision may be reached and a course of action implemented, the decision-making process is not complete. It is important to think ahead and determine how the decision could affect other phases of the flight. As the flight progresses, the pilot must continue to evaluate the outcome of the decision to ensure that it is producing the desired result.

To implement your decision, you plot the course changes and calculate a new estimated time of arrival, as well as contact the nearest flight service station to amend your flight plan and check weather conditions at your new destination. As you proceed to the airport, you continue to monitor your groundspeed, aircraft performance, and the weather conditions to ensure that no additional steps need to be taken to guarantee the safety of the flight.

To assist teaching pilots the elements of the decision-making process, a six-step model has been developed using the acronym “DECIDE.” The DECIDE model has been used to instruct pilots of varying experience

levels, as well as analyze accidents. [figure 9-6]

RISK MANAGEMENT

During each flight, decisions must be made regarding events which involve interactions between the four risk elements—the pilot in command, the aircraft, the environment, and the operation. The decision-making process involves an evaluation of each of these risk elements to achieve an accurate perception of the flight situation. [figure 9-7]

To reinforce the risk elements and their significance to effective decision making, the instructor can ask the student to identify the risk elements for a flight. The student should also be able to determine whether the risks have been appropriately evaluated in the situation.

A pilot schedules to fly to a business appointment with a client in a nearby city. She is a noninstrument-rated private pilot with no experience in marginal weather conditions, although she did gain some attitude instrument flying experience during her private pilot flight training. She intends to fly in a small four-seat, single-engine airplane with standard communication and navigation equipment. However, the VOR receiver is inoperative. The pilot plans to leave in the morning and return early in the afternoon. When she receives her weather briefing, she is informed that marginal VFR conditions with possible icing in the clouds are forecast for late afternoon. Having been delayed at the office, the pilot departs later than planned. While en route, the pilot encounters low ceilings and restricted visibility and she becomes spatially disoriented due to continued flight by ground reference.

In this case, the pilot did not effectively evaluate the four risk elements when making decisions regarding this flight. When assessing her fitness as a pilot, she overestimated her flying abilities by attempting to fly in marginal VFR conditions. The capability of her airplane was not properly evaluated. The inoperative VOR receiver limits her options if she becomes lost, or is required to navigate with limited visual reference to the ground. In addition, her airplane did not contain sophisticated navigation equipment which may have helped her locate an airport in an emergency situation. The flying environment was less than optimal when she decided to depart despite the threat of marginal conditions. When faced with deteriorating weather, she did not enlist the assistance of air traffic control (ATC) or use her instruments as references to turn around. Since she was trying to reach her destination for a business appointment, the operation affected her decision to undertake and continue the flight.

ASSESSING RISK

Examining NTSB reports and other accident research can help students learn to assess risk more effectively. Instructors can point out the phases of flight when accidents are most likely to occur and when risk is the greatest. For example, the majority of accidents occur when approaching or departing airports. [figure 9-8]

9-12

Studies also indicate the types of flight activities that are most likely to result in the most serious accidents. The majority of fatal general aviation accident causes fall under the categories of maneuvering flight, approaches, takeoff/initial climb, and weather. Delving deeper into accident statistics can provide some important details that can help students understand the risks involved with specific flying situations. For example, maneuvering flight is one of the largest single producers of fatal accidents and many of these accidents are attributed to maneuvering during low, slow flight, often during buzzing or unauthorized aerobatics. Fatal accidents which occur during approach often happen at night or in IFR conditions. Takeoff/initial climb accidents frequently are due to the pilot’s lack of awareness of the effects of density altitude on aircraft performance or other improper takeoff planning resulting in loss of control or stalls during, or shortly after takeoff. The majority of weather-related accidents occur after attempted VFR flight into IFR conditions.

In addition to discussing these facts, instructors can increase student awareness of these risks by setting positive examples. For instance, ensuring that students obtain weather briefings before every flight develops good habits and emphasizes the importance of the weather check. Instructors should take the time to discuss the conditions, and require the student to arrive at a go/no-go decision. Ignoring a marginal forecast or continuing a flight in poor weather may be sending the message that checking the weather serves no practical purpose. During the flight planning phase, the flight instructor can introduce situations that are different from those planned. The student should be asked to explain the possible consequences of each situation. Even if a flight lesson is canceled based on forecast conditions that never materialize, a lesson in judgment has been accomplished.

FACTORS AFFECTING DECISION MAKING

It is important to point out to students that being familiar with the decision-making process does not ensure that they will have the good judgment to be safe pilots. The ability to make effective decisions as pilot in command depends on a number of factors. Some circumstances, such as the time available to make a decision, may be beyond the pilot’s control. However, a pilot can learn to recognize those factors that can be managed, and learn skills to improve decision-making ability and judgment.

PILOT SELF-ASSESSMENT

The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft. In order to effectively exercise that responsibility and make effective decisions regarding the outcome of a flight, pilots must have an understanding of their limitations. A pilot’s performance during a flight is affected by many factors, such as health, recency of experience, knowledge, skill level, and attitude.

Students must be taught that exercising good judgment begins prior to taking the controls of an aircraft. Often, pilots thoroughly check their aircraft to determine airworthiness, yet do not evaluate their own fitness for flight. Just as a checklist is used when pre-flighting an aircraft, a personal checklist based on such factors as experience, currency, and comfort level can help determine if a pilot is prepared for a particular flight. Specifying when refresher training should be accomplished, designating weather minimums which may be higher than those listed in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, and setting limitations regarding the amount of crosswind for takeoffs and landings are examples of elements which may be included on a personal checklist. Instructors set an example by having their own personal checklists and can help students create their own checklists. In addition to a review of personal limitations, pilots should use the I’M SAFE Checklist to further evaluate their fitness for flight. [figure 9-9]

RECOGNIZING HAZARDOUS ATTITUDES

Being fit to fly depends on more than just a pilot’s physical condition and recency of experience. For example, attitude will affect the quality of decisions. Attitude can be defined as a personal motivational predisposition to respond to persons, situations, or events in a given manner. Studies have identified five hazardous attitudes which can interfere with a pilot’s ability to make sound decisions and exercise authority properly. [figure 9-10]

Hazardous attitudes can lead to poor decision making and actions which involve unnecessary risk. Students must be taught to examine their decisions carefully to ensure that their choices have not been influenced by hazardous attitudes and they must be familiar with positive alternatives to counteract the hazardous attitudes. These substitute attitudes are referred to as antidotes. During a flight operation, it is important to be able to recognize a hazardous attitude, correctly label the thought, and then recall its antidote. [figure 9-11]

STRESS MANAGEMENT

Everyone is stressed to some degree all the time. A certain amount of stress is good since it keeps a person alert and prevents complacency. However, effects of stress are cumulative and, if not coped with adequately, they eventually add up to an intolerable burden. Performance generally increases with the onset of stress, peaks, and then begins to fall off rapidly as stress levels exceed a person’s ability to cope. The ability to make effective decisions during flight can be impaired by stress. Factors, referred to as stressors, can increase a pilot’s risk of error in the cockpit. [figure 9-12]

One way of exploring the subject of stress with a student is to recognize when stress is affecting performance. If a student seems distracted, or has a particularly difficult time accomplishing the tasks of the lesson, the instructor can query the student. Was the student uncomfortable or tired during the flight? Is there some stress in another aspect of the student’s life that may be causing a distraction? This may prompt the student to evaluate how these factors affect performance and judgment. The instructor should also try to determine if there are aspects of pilot training that are causing excessive amounts of stress for the student. For example, if the student consistently makes a decision not to fly, even though weather briefings indicate favorable conditions, it may be due to apprehension regarding the lesson content. Stalls, landings, or an impending solo flight may cause concern for the student. By explaining a specific maneuver in greater detail or offering some additional encouragement, the instructor may be able to alleviate some of the student’s stress.


To help students manage the accumulation of life stresses and prevent stress overload, instructors can recommend several techniques. For example, including relaxation time in a busy schedule and maintaining a program of physical fitness can help reduce stress levels. Learning to manage time more effectively can help pilots avoid heavy pressures imposed by getting behind schedule and not meeting deadlines. While these pressures may exist in the workplace, students may also experience the same type of stress regarding their flight training schedule. Instructors can advise students to take assessments of themselves to determine their capabilities and limitations and then set realistic goals. In addition, avoiding stressful situations and encounters can help pilots cope with stress.

USE OF RESOURCES

To make informed decisions during flight operations, students must be made aware of the resources found both inside and outside the cockpit. Since useful tools and sources of information may not always be readily apparent, learning to recognize these resources is an essential part of ADM training. Resources must not only be identified, but students must develop the skills to evaluate whether they have the time to use a particular resource and the impact that its use will have upon the safety of flight. For example, the assistance of ATC may be very useful if a pilot is lost. However, in an emergency situation when action needs be taken quickly, time may not be available to contact ATC immediately. During training, instructors can routinely point out resources to students.

INTERNAL RESOURCES

Internal resources are found in the cockpit during flight. Since some of the most valuable internal resources are ingenuity, knowledge, and skill, pilots can expand cockpit resources immensely by improving their capabilities. This can be accomplished by frequently reviewing flight information publications, such as the CFRs and the AIM, as well as by pursuing additional training.

A thorough understanding of all the equipment and systems in the aircraft is necessary to fully utilize all resources. For example, advanced navigation and autopilot systems are valuable resources. However, if pilots do not fully understand how to use this equipment, or they rely on it so much that they become complacent, it can become a detriment to safe flight. To ensure that students understand the operation of various equipment, instructors must first be familiar with the components of each aircraft in which they instruct.

Checklists are essential cockpit resources for verifying that the aircraft instruments and systems are checked, set, and operating properly, as well as ensuring that the proper procedures are performed if there is a system malfunction or in-flight emergency. Students reluctant to use checklists can be reminded that pilots at all levels of experience refer to checklists, and that the more advanced the aircraft is, the more crucial checklists become. In addition, the POH, which is required to be carried on board the aircraft, is essential for accurate flight planning and for resolving in-flight equipment malfunctions. Other valuable cockpit resources include current aeronautical charts, and publications, such as the Airport/Facility Directory.

It should be pointed out to students that passengers can also be a valuable resource. Passengers can help watch for traffic and may be able to provide information in an irregular situation, especially if they are familiar with flying. A strange smell or sound may alert a passenger to a potential problem. The pilot in command should brief passengers before the flight to make sure that they are comfortable voicing any concerns.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

Possibly the greatest external resources during flight are air traffic controllers and flight service specialists. ATC can help decrease pilot workload by providing traffic advisories, radar vectors, and assistance in emergency situations. Flight service stations can provide updates on weather, answer questions about airport conditions, and may offer direction-finding assistance. The services provided by ATC can be invaluable in enabling pilots to make informed in-flight decisions. Instructors can help students feel comfortable with ATC by encouraging them to take advantage of services, such as flight following and Flight Watch. If students are exposed to ATC as much as possible during training, they will feel confident asking controllers to clarify instructions and be better equipped to use ATC as a resource for assistance in unusual circumstances or emergencies.

Throughout training, students can be asked to identify internal and external resources which can be used in a variety of flight situations. For example, if a discrepancy is found during preflight, what resources can be used to determine its significance? In this case, the student’s knowledge of the airplane, the POH, an instructor or another experienced pilot, or an aviation maintenance technician are resources which may help define the problem.

During cross-country training, students may be asked to consider the following situation. On a cross-country flight, you become disoriented. Although you are familiar with the area, you do not recognize any landmarks, and fuel is running low. What resources do you have to assist you? Students should be able to identify their own skills and knowledge, aeronautical charts, ATC, flight service, and navigation equipment as some of the resources that can be used in this situation.

WORKLOAD MANAGEMENT

Effective workload management ensures that essential operations are accomplished by planning, prioritizing, and sequencing tasks to avoid work overload. As experience is gained, a pilot learns to recognize future workload requirements and can prepare for high workload periods during times of low workload. Instructors can teach this skill by prompting their students to prepare for a high workload. For example, when en route, the student can be asked to explain the actions that will need to be taken during the approach to the airport. The student should be able to describe the procedures for traffic pattern entry and landing preparation. Reviewing the appropriate chart and setting radio frequencies well in advance of when they will be needed helps reduce workload as the flight nears the airport. In addition, the student should listen to ATIS, ASOS, or AWOS, if available, and then monitor the tower frequency or CTAF to get a good idea of what traffic conditions to expect. Checklists should be performed well in advance so there is time to focus on traffic and ATC instructions. These procedures are especially important prior to entering a high-density traffic area, such as Class B airspace.

To manage workload, items should be prioritized. This concept should be emphasized to students and reinforced when training procedures are performed. For example, during a go-around, adding power, gaining airspeed, and properly configuring the airplane are priorities. Informing the tower of the balked landing should be accomplished only after these tasks are completed. Students must understand that priorities change as the situation changes. If fuel quantity is lower than expected on a cross-country flight, the priority can shift from making a scheduled arrival time at the destination, to locating a nearby airport to refuel. In an emergency situation, the first priority is to fly the aircraft and maintain a safe airspeed.

Another important part of managing workload is recognizing a work overload situation. The first effect of high workload is that the pilot begins to work faster. As workload increases, attention cannot be devoted to several tasks at one time, and the pilot may begin to focus on one item. When the pilot becomes task saturated, there is no awareness of inputs from various sources so decisions may be made on incomplete information, and the possibility of error increases. [figure 9-13]

During a lesson, workload can be gradually increased as the instructor monitors the student’s management of tasks. The instructor should ensure that the student has the ability to recognize a work overload situation. When becoming overloaded, the student should stop, think, slow down, and prioritize. It is important that the student understand options that may be available to decrease workload. For example, tasks, such as locating an item on a chart or setting a radio frequency, may be delegated to another pilot or passenger, an autopilot (if available) may be used, or ATC may be enlisted to provide assistance.

figure 9-13. Accidents often occur when flying task requirements exceed pilot capabilities. The difference between these two factors is called the margin of safety. Note that in this idealized example, the margin of safety is minimal during the approach and landing. At this point, an emergency or distraction could overtax pilot capabilities, causing an accident.

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

Situational awareness is the accurate perception of the operational and environmental factors that affect the aircraft, pilot, and passengers during a specific period of time. Maintaining situational awareness requires an understanding of the relative significance of these factors and their future impact on the flight. When situationally aware, the pilot has an overview of the total operation and is not fixated on one perceived significant factor. Some of the elements inside the aircraft to be considered are the status of aircraft systems, pilot, and passengers. In addition, an awareness of the environmental conditions of the flight, such as spatial orientation of the aircraft, and its relationship to terrain, traffic, weather, and airspace must be maintained.

To maintain situational awareness, all of the skills involved in aeronautical decision making are used. For example, an accurate perception of the pilot’s fitness can be achieved through self-assessment and recognition of hazardous attitudes. A clear assessment of the status of navigation equipment can be obtained through workload management, and establishing a productive relationship with ATC can be accomplished by effective resource use.

OBSTACLES TO MAINTAINING SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

Fatigue, stress, and work overload can cause the pilot to fixate on a single perceived important item rather than maintaining an overall awareness of the flight situation. A contributing factor in many accidents is a distraction which diverts the pilot’s attention from monitoring the instruments or scanning outside the aircraft. Many cockpit distractions begin as a minor problem, such as a gauge that is not reading correctly, but result in accidents as the pilot diverts attention to the perceived problem and neglects to properly control the aircraft.

Complacency presents another obstacle to maintaining situational awareness. When activities become routine, the pilot may have a tendency to relax and not put as much effort into performance. Like fatigue, complacency reduces the pilot’s effectiveness in the cockpit. However, complacency is harder to recognize than fatigue, since everything is perceived to be progressing smoothly. For example, cockpit automation can lead to complacency if the pilot assumes that the autopilot is doing its job, and does not crosscheck the instruments or the aircraft’s position frequently. If the autopilot fails, the pilot may not be mentally prepared to fly the aircraft manually. Instructors should be especially alert to complacency in students with significant flight experience. For example, a pilot receiving a flight review in a familiar aircraft may be prone to complacency.

By asking about positions of other aircraft in the traffic pattern, engine instrument indications, and the aircraft’s location in relationship to references on a chart, the instructor can determine if the student is maintaining situational awareness. The instructor can also attempt to focus the student’s attention on an imaginary problem with the communication or navigation equipment. The instructor should point out that situational awareness is not being maintained if the student diverts too much attention away from other tasks, such as controlling the aircraft or scanning for traffic. These are simple exercises that can be done throughout flight training which will help emphasize the importance of maintaining situational awareness.

OPERATIONAL PITFALLS

There are a number of classic behavioral traps into which pilots have been known to fall. Pilots, particularly those with considerable experience, as a rule always try to complete a flight as planned, please passengers, meet schedules, and generally demonstrate that they have the right stuff. The basic drive to demonstrate the right stuff can have an adverse effect on safety, and can impose an unrealistic assessment of piloting skills under stressful conditions. These tendencies ultimately may bring about practices that are dangerous and often illegal, and may lead to a mishap. Students will develop awareness and learn to avoid many of these operational pitfalls through effective ADM training. The scenarios and examples provided by instructors during ADM instruction should involve these pitfalls. [figure 9-14]

EVALUATING STUDENT DECISION MAKING

A student’s performance is often evaluated only on a technical level. The instructor determines whether maneuvers are technically accurate and that procedures are performed in the right order. Instructors must learn to evaluate students on a different level. How did the student arrive at a particular decision? What resources were used? Was risk assessed accurately when a go/nogo decision was made? Did the student maintain situational awareness in the traffic pattern? Was workload managed effectively during a cross-country? How does the student handle stress and fatigue?

Instructors should continually evaluate student decision-making ability and offer suggestions for improvement. It is not always necessary to present complex situations which require detailed analysis. By allowing students to make decisions about typical issues that arise throughout the course of training, such as their fitness to fly, weather conditions, and equipment problems, instructors can address effective decision making and allow students to develop judgment skills. For example, when a discrepancy is found during preflight inspection, the student should be allowed to initially determine the action to be taken. Then the effectiveness of the student’s choice and other options that may be available can be discussed. Opportunities for improving decision-making abilities occur often during training. If the tower offers the student a runway that requires landing with a tailwind in order to expedite traffic, the student can be directed to assess the risks involved and asked to present alternative actions to be taken. Perhaps the most frequent choice that has to be made during flight training is the go/no-go decision based on weather. While the final choice to fly lies with the instructor, students can be required to assess the weather prior to each flight and make a go/no-go determination.

In addition, instructors can create lessons that are specifically designed to test whether students are applying ADM skills. Planning a flight lesson in which the student is presented with simulated emergencies, a heavy workload, or other operational problems can be valuable in assessing the student’s judgment and decision-making skills. During the flight, performance can be evaluated on how effectively the student managed workload, or handled stress. While debriefing the student after the flight, the instructor can suggest ways that problems may have been solved more effectively, how tasks might have been prioritized differently, or other resources that could have been used to improve the situation.