Decision making is relatively easy, the more information you can amass before and during the flight the safer and more knowledgeable will the choices be that you as the pilot will have to take and as a result risk level for the flight will be low.
Pilots are used to depend on themselves for a great deal, but this can get in the way when obtaining information needed for safe decision making. Here we take a look at several sources we can use in the cockpit and to make sure all sources of knowledge are used. All these sources combined result in the safety equation.
This equation consists of a number of factors and all can be influenced to some degree, so that the safety of the flight is never in doubt. This is were we discuss them.
There are a number of factors that have an important part in the safety equation we tend to use in aviation. We can separate them as follows: the pilot, airplane, passengers and other outside sources. Together these factors form the the safety equation.
The abilities of the pilot are of great importance to the safety of the flight. Just as other professionals the pilot must be able to perform to the standards of the certificate and ratings that he/she holds. You may expect that regular study is required to stay abreast of their disciplines and any changes in rules and regulations concerning the flight itself or area of interest. Whether or not being paid to fly.
Pilots will need refreshing or even recurrent training to keep their skills up to par. Countries will implement these in different ways to make sure a certain level of safety is maintained among their flight crew. Sometimes, although you might never need those skills, a mountain or aerobatics training can raise the level of skill and confidence the pilot has to much higher levels.
A huge amount of information can be gleaned from the airplane that will help you make important safety decisions. During the pre-flight phase the aircraft is talking to you and you must learn to listen to it. Any abnormalities should be detected as soon as possible before the flight commences.
The more familiar you are with the aircraft you regularly fly the more you can use it as a source of information. The sounds of the fuselage and engine and feel of the flight controls can make a difference here.
Another source of valuable information is the pilot's operating handbook or aircraft flight manual. This contains information about the aircraft and its systems you might need someday. Other sources are the aeronautical map (guiding you to flatter terrain or a diversion airport) or any radio supplying you with the latest weather.
The aircraft technical log talks to you about the state of the aircraft and mechanical safety level. Read it and make sure that any problem listed does not affect the flight you are about to take. This procedure also is valid for the engine and propeller logbooks.
When you fly a lot with the same person, pilot or not, it pays to work together and delegate flying tasks. Its like having an extra pair of hands and eyes on board which increases safety tremendously, especially in busy flight environments. But only if they are sufficiently familiar with your flight operations and the area you fly in.
Obviously, ad hoc sight seeing passengers are not your first choice for this task.
During the flight there are numerous sources available to the crew from outside of the aircraft. The first one that comes to mind is of course air traffic control and flight information services. They have a vast array of tools to their disposal to supply you with the latest on weather developments, and any traffic which might become a factor and much more.
Using these outside sources will make your mental picture complete and add to the safety of the flight.
The overall safety of the flight is influenced by all of these factors together and you ability on managing the information available to you in a logical way and with common sense, so that safety is never an issue when you go out flying in the blue wild yonder.