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Risk Management: A Critical Element of Single Pilot Resource Management

Human Factors, SRM | December 4, 2013

Author: Robert A. Wright

Risk management expertise is critical to the safe operation of any aircraft, especially high performance light business aircraft (LBA) operated by a single pilot. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series of articles, risk management skills are a subset of a larger skill set known as Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM).

Risk management can be broken down into three distinct phases: identification, assessment, and mitigation. Here, I’ll focus on risk assessment.

Identifying and Assessing Risk

Your job as a single pilot of an LBA is to practice effective SRM and risk management, and identify all risks associated with a planned or continuing flight.

Once you’ve identified the risks, you must assess each of them in terms of likelihood (or probability) and severity (or consequences). A given combination of likelihood and severity will determine whether the risk is low, medium, serious, or high.

Likelihood and Severity

Risk likelihood is commonly described in terms of general ranges of probabilities. For example, these might range from improbable to remote to occasional to probable.

Risk severity, on the other hand, describes the potential consequences and can range from negligible (less than minor injury or damage), to marginal (minor injury and/or damage), to critical (severe injury and/or major damage), to catastrophic (fatalities and/or total loss).

To measure the joint impact of likelihood and severity, you may use a number of techniques. A risk matrix is one effective way to do this.

Below: Risk Matrix Example


Using effective risk management means that you must control risk and reduce it to acceptable levels. In practice, this means mitigating high or serious risks to medium, or even better, to low.

At first, the process of risk assessment may seem highly subjective, but your proficiency and accuracy will increase if you have received risk management training and practice risk assessment during actual flights.

Note:, in cooperation with Crew Resource Management LLC, now offers a complete SRM course (available for purchase through our storefront).

Robert A. Wright is the president of Wright Aviation Solutions, LLC. He is a member of the leadership team of Crew Resource Management, LLC, which has been providing comprehensive CRM training to corporate flight departments for over four years.

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