Serious about safety: New tool aids in risk assessment

May 20, 2010

Air safety doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of careful planning and preparation. Part of that preparation is evaluating any risks associated with every flight—a lesson the airlines have learned well, giving their pilots tools and rules for making a go/no-go decision.

Now the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed a risk evaluator tool for general aviation pilots. The ASF Flight Risk Evaluator highlights the factors pilots need to consider and provides an intuitive interview-style tool for assessing risks for each flight.

"Whether we think about it or not, as pilots we make judgments about risk every time we fly,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the foundation. “For most of us, it’s a pretty informal thing—just something we do sort of automatically. But research has shown that there are real safety benefits to taking a more formal approach.”

In addition to the educational components typically found in Air Safety Foundation online courses, the ASF Flight Risk Evaluator allows a pilot to enter values for numerous risk factors, such as weather, runway length, experience, and currency, to generate a guidance list to help pilots make an informed go/no-go decision.

“By FAA regulation, the pilot is the final authority for the safety of any flight,” said Landsberg. “So the guidance our Flight Risk Evaluator provides is just that—guidance.

“But with it, a pilot can take a systematic approach to risk assessment for a clearer understanding of the risks to be considered for any given flight.”