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Risk Management: A Critical Element of Single Pilot Resource Management, Part 3

SRM | January 28, 2013

In the first two parts of this series, I described how single pilots of light business aircraft can identify and assess the hazards and risks of proposed or ongoing flights. In this final article, I’ll describe risk mitigation.

The Risk Management “Payoff”

Risk mitigation is the “payoff” and final phase of the risk management process. It allows pilots to employ all of the available technology, procedures, and other tools in a manner that reduces risk to acceptable levels while still maintaining utility and meeting schedules. In identifying and assessing risks, you must apply some simple analytical techniques, while mitigating risks is often a more straightforward process that applies common sense to the tactical situation you face on a given flight.

For example, let’s assume there is a line of thunderstorms on your direct route to your destination. If you tried to find a “hole” in this line to allow you to penetrate the convective activity, both the likelihood and severity of risk for this hazard could increase to unacceptable levels. On the other hand, you may determine that a simple route deviation could allow you to circumnavigate the entire area covered by the convective activity. This action, if taken early enough in the flight, may not even significantly increase the distance and time needed by the change in your routing.

This example illustrates a key feature of successful risk mitigation: the ability to anticipate emerging risks and take early action to mitigate them. To continue the previous example, you may decide to either depart early or delay your departure in order to avoid convective activity along your route.

Advance Mitigation of Risks for Business Aviation Operations

Some risks must be mitigated well in advance of a scheduled trip. For example, if your aircraft has inoperative equipment that is crucial to a planned flight, you may want to identify and correct the discrepancy days or even weeks in advance. In another example, you may see a building winter storm system a couple of days in advance of a flight that will take you and your employees to an important business meeting. In such a case, you may elect to depart a day early, reschedule the meeting, or make other arrangements to reduce the external pressures on the need to make the flight.

Regardless of the aircraft type, effective risk management will allow pilots to control the risks to flight operations while maintaining utility and efficiency. Risk mitigation is the final step in the three phase process that allows pilots to achieve this goal.

Note:, in cooperation with Crew Resource Management LLC, now offers a complete SRM course for business aviation (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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