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Pilot Decision Making


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI

Decision Making – Things We Forget

Have you ever noticed someone hop out of an aircraft to remove the chocks or tie downs that they apparently forgot to remove during preflight? Maybe it has even happened to you. There are plenty of things to forget, pitot covers, engine cowl plugs, tow bars, baggage doors, oil access doors, etc.

One day while watching aircraft on the ramp at San Jose airport, I noticed a Mitsubishi MU-2 load up with several passengers and two pilots. After the aircraft started both engines, I noticed that the chocks were still on the right main wheel. Oops. The crew quickly shut down both engines and a crew member hopped out of the aircraft to remove the chocks. I told myself that I would never let that happen to me…)

Several years later, I was doing a preflight while waiting for the fuel truck to arrive.  My preflight walk-around checklist was interrupted when the fuel track arrived. After the fuel truck finished, I stowed some baggage and completed my preflight checklist. Only problem was, I skipped to the next item on the checklist, but actually had not completed removing the right main wheel chocks. Luckily, my observant passenger noticed the wheel chocks and pointed out my error. Embarrassing!

Interrupting the flow on a checklist can lead to many pilot errors, on the ground, or in the air. Question, if our checklist is interrupted, how can we reduce the risk of missing/forgetting something? One simple method that the airlines and military use is… “If the checklist is interrupted, the crew MUST re-start the interrupted checklist section from the beginning”.

The checklist "re-start" significantly reduces the risk of missing/forgetting something on the checklist.