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Pilot Safety: Developing Personal Minimums

Posted by US DOT Public Affairs

In 2015, 384 people died in 238 general aviation accidents. Loss of Control (LOC) was the number one cause of these accidents, and it happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.

To help save lives, the Federal Aviation Administration is working with industry to prevent LOC accidents. Each month the FAA provides pilots with an LOC solution. This month they are focusing on personal minimums.

Personal minimums are the minimum conditions needed for safe flight. They are a pilot's set of procedures, rules, criteria and guidelines that help the pilot decide whether, and under what conditions, to operate, or continue operating, in the National Airspace System.

Points to remember about personal minimums:

  • Personal minimums cannot be developed just before takeoff. They need to be established well in advance of the flight.
  • Personal minimums should be regularly reviewed.
  • Once they are developed, write them down and keep them in a place where they can be easily accessed.
  • Finally — Refer to them often. Personal minimums save lives, and the lives of passengers.

Consider using the PAVE acronym to further develop risk mitigation strategies: Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures. Below are just a few questions to ask in each category.

Pilot

  • Am I feeling well and rested today?
  • Is my stress level such that I can devote all my attention and energy to completing this flight safely?
  • Are my piloting skills equal to the flight I am thinking of taking?
  • Am I current and proficient in the aircraft I’ll be flying today?
  • Have I had transition training in this aircraft?

 

Aircraft

  • Is the aircraft I’ll be flying capable and equipped to complete this trip?
  • Does the maintenance history indicate the aircraft is airworthy?
  • Does my preflight inspection find no problems with the aircraft?
  • Is there enough fuel onboard?

 

Environment

  • Can both the aircraft and I fly in the expected weather conditions?
  • Are alternative airports available?

 

External Pressures

  • Does this flight have to be completed today?
  • Are peers or passengers pressuring me to fly?
  • Do I have commitments after the flight that I think I must meet?
  • Do I feel pressured or rushed to get to my destination?

Resources

The FAA Weather Camera web page for real-time weather information in several US and Canadian locations
http://avcams.faa.gov

Personal Minimums Checklist
http://go.usa.gov/x9F2F

Safety Enhancement Fact Sheet on Personal Minimums
http://go.usa.gov/x9FTq

FAA Personal Minimums Development Guide
http://go.usa.gov/x9FTx