The Fifth Principle Finally Gets its Due

If you are the kind of person who is intent on understanding current industry findings in the context of how it impacts you and your operation, then we have an end-of-the-year retrospective that will give you more than just a “year in review” wrap-up. For over a decade we have been giving voice to the role of the human half of the human-machine relationship. And with the conclusion of several major investigations in 2014 (Asiana 214/SFO and UPS 1354/BHM) the focus on one vital aspect of flight crew performance—monitoring—has sharpened.

In 2012, we went to press with Automation Airmanship after 3 years of research and writing. In it, we assigned Monitoring to the family of 9 Principles for operating glass-cockpit aircraft. In 2014, Monitoring has finally achieved the noted status as, in the words of the Flight Safety Foundation Active Pilot Monitoring Working Group, … something that flight crews must use to help them identify, prevent and mitigate events that may impact safety margins.” We couldn’t agree more, and note that several qualities of expert-level monitoring that we have been long advocating made it into the Working Group’s recommendations. Along with the recommendations now of several high-profile accident investigations adding weight to decades of evidence, the recognition of monitoring as a front-line, 21st-century flight deck skill is long overdue.

We do, however, think that the practical application is simpler than some would conjecture: you don’t have to have the budget of a university research arm or the resources of a major airline to know how to adopt robust and rigorous monitoring practices as a foundational tenets of your own personal airmanship. You really only need to master these two things in order to master monitoring:

  1. Know how the wetware—you, the human operator—is designed to assess and maintain awareness of the surrounding environment, and
  2. Know the flight-path critical information that must be monitored during each phase of flight.

In the chapter that covers Monitoring in our book, we expound on each of these two vitally important knowledge areas for flight crews, and provide practical techniques to be applied on every mission or flight leg. Building knowledge of these two concepts will have dramatic results in how you deploy your own monitoring resources on the automated flight deck, beginning with your next flight.

Think about it.

Until our next report, fly safe, and always, fly first.

Reference: A Practical Guide for Improving Flight Path Monitoring: Final Report of the Active Pilot Monitoring Working Group.

You can find the full report here:

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