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Decision making while either on the ground or in the air is a foundation for aeronautical decision making (ADM) and single-pilot resource management (SRM) skills. The FAA has provided a few models, we as pilots should use as part of the preflight checklist.

  • PAVE Checklist

  • The DECIDE Model

  • IM SAFE Checklist (Next lesson)

The PAVE Checklist

The PAVE checklist can be incorporated into the preflight as another way for pilots to mitigate risk.

  • Pilot

  • Airplane

  • enVironment

  • External pressures

P - Pilots should use the IMSAFE checklist as a way to do a self-check.

  • Make sure you, as the pilot in command (PIC) are current and up to date with:

    • Medical – medical certificate is current.

    • Flight – annual flight review, three takeoffs and landings, IFR current, along with being experience in the airplane etc.

Make sure all of the documents are current before the flight, this is part of the preflight requirements, such as: sectional charts, airport diagrams, NOTAMS, etc.

A - Is the airplane the right airplane for the flight?

  • As the pilot, are you familiar with the airplane?

  • Does the airplane have the proper instruments, lighting, navigation and instruments?

  • Does the airplane have enough fuel, plus enough reserve fuel?

V - enVironment

  • Weather

    • Get the most current weather briefing from FSS.

    • What is the weather forecast for the day? What are the ceilings and visibility? Is there going to be thunderstorms? What is the winds, is there icing?

  • Airports

    • Important airport information at the intended destination and alternate airport, such as NOTAM’s, airport lighting, obstacles, etc.

  • Airspace

    • This is a big one, contact FSS and check for any NOTAMs (TFR’s). DO NOT! Be that pilot. “I wasn’t aware of that TFR in the area.”

  • Night Flying

    • Is any portion of the flight going to be at night?

    • Check all interior and exterior aircraft lighting during the preflight.

    • Carry flashlights (more than one) plus extra batteries.

E - External Pressures, is anything outside of the flight. This can go back to the IMSAFE checklist.

  • Being impatient as the pilot, wanting to hurry up and get going, also knowing someone is waiting on you to arrive at the airport and they are becoming impatient.

  • The desire to show off to someone, “Watch this!”

  • In a hurry to get home. A good idea is to carry a small basic overnight bag, you may never know.

The DECIDE Model

Using the “DECIDE Model is another decision-making process a pilot can use.

Detect - (The problem) when we recognize a change or a problem has occurred, or we are expecting a change, problem to happen.

Estimate - (Need to react) when a problem has occurred, do not overreact.

Choose - (A course of action) after a problem has occurred, choice the best and safest course of action.

Identify - (Solutions) come up with a solution to a problem, they may be many different solutions. Do not fixated on a process, to make decision.

Do - (Necessary action) once a resolution is made, find the best, suitable resolution for the situation at hand.

Evaluate - (Effect of the action) once the solution has been implemented, evaluate the decision.


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