Are you a safe pilot?
Do you know which mistakes to look for before, during, and after flying?
Let us help you stay safe in the air by giving you a cultivated list of common pilot errors. If even for a split second you had to question yourself as you read the above questions, take the time to read this list and apply some tips to your next flight.
When it comes to weather, the more you know the better off you’ll be. As the famous quote states, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” A lot of flying safely involves planning, specifically, by you, the pilot.
When you first think of weather, in the terms of “weather safety”, certain thoughts come to mind such as: ice storms, thunderstorms, severe winds, and other extreme forms of weather.
What if we told you that the biggest problems you should be aware of are those innocent looking clouds and fog? Those two aren’t necessarily extremely dangerous like an ice storm, but when pilots decide to fly into clouds, they can quickly lose control of their aircraft.
If you’ve ever heard of the term “VFR into IFR”, then you know what we are referring to. Over 80% of such accidents result in a fatality.
By simply using an app to get a pre-flight weather briefing you can be assured you are flying safely. No longer are the days where you have to call a briefer on the phone and walk him through your exact route. There are numerous apps or computer programs that you can check in a fraction of the time it previously took.
Do you understand taxiway naming schemes of every airport you fly in to or out of?
If your answer is “no” or “I think so”, then you most likely need to keep a taxi diagram on hand while you are taxiing. Not only is this easily done via your iPad, iPhone, or having a physical sheet of it, it can be a true life saver.
Review this before you begin moving so that you are not taxiing out and trying to read the map at the same time.
The two things every pilot should do before takeoff are quite simple: walk around the plane and kick the tires a couple times. WRONG.
If you are the pilot that does that as your preflight check, listen up!
Grab your checklist, take your time, and make a thorough preflight inspection of your aircraft. Look for little things such as checking if surfaces are flush with the door or other compartments. Something as simple as that can cause a major issue in the air.
Poor Radio Skills
There are numerous forms of poor communication amongst pilots. Misunderstandings between air traffic control (ATC) and pilots happen all the time. When this happens to you, what do you do?
Horrible idea… It takes a split second to get clarification from ATC and potentially save a catastrophe from happening. So, get clarification when you need it!
On the other side of the coin, some pilots either speak too fast, or they say way too much. The better and more comfortable you are on the radio, the better communication with ATC will work.
When you first tune into a frequency, take your time and listen to what is going on. There’s no rush to announce yourself, and you may learn a lot by listening for a while.
Keep the conversation short, slow, and concise. The ATC will be writing down certain parts of what you are saying, so don’t rush it and don’t add unneeded information.
Using a Checklist or Flow
By having your checklists with you, you can be reassured that you are checking every possible issue. As humans, our memory can fail us, so when you are flying, don’t put it to chance. Make a solid checklist, and use it every single flight.
Some pilots use what is called “a flow”. This is a version of a checklist in which you make a physical checklist, a map, on the physical plane. This can occur inside and outside of your aircraft. For instance, inside the aircraft, a pilot would physically touch everything on the instrument panel in a clockwise pattern, checking to see that everything was in proper working condition.
Filing a VFR Flight Plan
Before you think you don’t have time for to file a VFR flight plan, hear us out. This process is much simpler than the days when you had to call a flight specialist. There are now numerous apps you can download and utilize for this process.
The general idea behind a VFR flight plan is that someone knows your planned route, so they can find you if needed. Also included in these plans is how much fuel you have on board. This is crucial if a search party is needed to find you. It is also indicative of flying time; they will know if you have 4 hours of fuel and you’ve been gone for 5 hours that it is now time to find you and your aircraft.
Do you fully understand the technology you are using?
Everyone is well aware that technology is rapidly growing every single year and it has made its way in to the cockpit. This can range from new avionics, iPads, iPhones, GPS systems, to simple pilot headphones. No matter what the technology is, you must understand it thoroughly.
By not understanding the technology you choose to use while flying you give up your situational awareness amongst other possible issues. By looking at your piece of technology as opposed to keeping awareness of your surroundings, you risk your own life and possibly others.
If you have the manuals for all of your technology in the box that you have already thrown away, you’ve made a mistake.
Learn your tech before you use it!
What are some other pilot errors you have seen in your aviation career? Share with us below in the comments.