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Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM)  (Private Pilot)

Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) is decision- making in a unique environment such as aviation. In Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22, the FAA is defined as a, “systematic approach to the mental process of evaluating a given set of circumstances and determining the best course of action”.

Basically, learn to make good safe decision before you go fly, every time. The root cause for a majority of aviation accidents is poor decision making.


Crew Resource Management (CRM) and SRM

Crew Resource Management (CRM) really applies to pilots operating in a flight crew environment, however many of the CRM principles and concepts apply to the Single-pilot Resource Management (SRM).  SRM is defined as being able to manage all of the resources available, both in the aircraft and from outside sources, prior to and during flight as a single pilot. SRM also includes concepts, such as ADM, risk management, controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) awareness, and situational awareness.


Hazard and Risk

Hazardous Attitudes and Antidotes:

As a pilot being physically fit to fly is one thing, being mentally fit is the main focus. A hazardous attitude in a pilot contributes to poor judgement.

There a five hazardous attitudes that can interfere with a pilot’s ability to make good decisions, these are:

  • Anti-authority

  • Impulsivity

  • Invulnerability

  • Macho

  • Resignation

Anti-authority - or “Don’t tell me”, is basically someone that does not like other people telling them what to do. The way to fix that is to simple follow the rules.

Impulsivity - “Do it quickly”, is someone that gets in a hurry, and does not stop to think, about risk and other alternative ways. Don’t do something so fast, think first. Another way to put it is “Think before you act”.

Invulnerability - “It won’t happen to me”, is a pilot that thinks they will never get it an accident, it won’t happen to me. Pilots that think this way are those that are willing to take chances, which increases the risks. Pilots need to stop and think, this could happen to me.

Macho - “I can do it”, some pilots think they are better than other pilots, they like to take risk, just to show off. This type of attitude is not just for male, but for female pilots as well. Just think taking chances is foolish and stupid.

Resignation - “What’s the use?”, this is when someone thinks that if something is going good, it is just good luck. When things a going bad, it is not meant to be or someone is out to get them. You need to think to yourself, “I’m not helpless, I can make a difference.”

What to take out of this is simply put, just stop and think first, always have a positive mind set, and be a safe pilot.



Decision Making Process

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 provide a few models, we as pilots should use as part of the preflight checklist.

IMSAFE checklist:

(See IM SAFE 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 solution. 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.



Private Pilot ACS PA.l.H.K4

PHAK FAA-H-8083-25 (Ch. 2)

Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22

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