Welcome to eClass 25:

Hidden Dangers In Aviation…

Here we go…

PART 1: Hidden dangers in aviation (don’t show your mum this one!).

Let’s start with a story…

I was 16 when I started flying training.  Basically still a kid especially in my mum’s eyes!  I was too young to drive so mum had to drive me to the flying school to have my lessons.  I had been taking lessons once a week for about 2 months when mum looks up from the newspaper that she was reading in the car to see my Cessna 150 take off and my instructor walk in front of her car.  You can imagine the ‘look down, look up, look down again’ thing that she was doing until the penny dropped and she jumped out of the car and asked “Where’s my daughter?!”  As you probably have guessed I had just been sent on my first solo.

Now to mum there was a sudden realisation that her daughter was in an aeroplane on her own and would be doing this many more times in the future!  To her, all the possibilities of danger was very real.  Mum’s are supposed to worry so she did eventually did get over it!


By definition implies that something MAY happen.

The aviation industry has evolved from known and unknown dangers.  The good news is that it has developed a safety culture to counteract these dangers.

Known and unknown dangers…

Obviously as human beings if you know something is going to hurt, you eventually learn not to do it.  Sometimes this takes more than once!  Eg. annoying your sister, brother or the cat!  We touched on the history of checklists in a previous eClass but will reinforce that they are part of the evolution of counteracting dangers.   (Perhaps we should all develop checklists when we are growing up to pass on to future generations to handle siblings!)

Examples of known dangers…

bullet Fuel Conversion

bullet Fuel Flow

bullet Weigh Restrictions

bullet Under Carriage Position

bullet Engine Mixture

bullet Engine Status

bullet Flap Selection

bullet Brakes

bullet Instrument indications

bullet Icing

bullet Weather

I’m sure all of you are astute enough to pick up that all of the items above are covered in some way in your T.M.P.F.I.S.C.H.  And/or FINALS checks?

This is proof that pilots before you have passed on their good and unfortunate experiences.  Our checklists and flight rules are largely written from someone’s pain so respect them.

As you go through your training and into the workforce the challenge is to continue to know why you are applying these checks and rules. 

In doing so, you are reducing the frequency of the known dangers.  It’s important to realise that you maintain vigilance as the checklists and rules cover many known dangers but not necessarily all. 

That’s where keeping the big picture and trusting your gut feeling should pick up the rest.

Every day is different – that’s what makes flying give us such a thrill. 

Unknown dangers…

I guess by definition if they unknown then I can’t tell you what they are!

Don’t worry I won’t leave you hanging.  My thoughts about unknown dangers are that they may not have happened yet – you may be the first to experience something. 

Alternatively you may end up with someone’s problem by default.  By this I mean you are often relying on another party for a result or are responsible for another party’s work. 

Or thirdly you may inadvertently cause one yourself.


Now if I were at the start of my career again I would want me to give you some tools to use all throughout your career.

Am I right or am I right?!

Ok, your big puppy dog eyes have worked!!


Here are some things to reduce the risk of unknown dangers…

  • Develop and enforce a defence mechanism through checklist management and respecting the rules
  • Step back and do a feasibility assessment – ‘proof read’ the situation and/or your actions
  • Apply all the knowledge that you know now
  • Self critique any experience that you have to either be happy with it or decide what you would do different next time
  • Keep the big picture – aeroplane still flying and runway available so just land
  • Identify the danger

PART 2: Identifying dangers.

The next useful tool is to look when things are potentially going to cause a problem. 

In this section I obviously can’t cover every possibility but if I can help you develop a system you can then apply it to any situation. 

I will cover some simple scenarios that I have had that you can learn from if you want to.

 Threat zones…

First you need to know what is ‘NORMAL’.  Whether this be the normal envelope for the aeroplane or you.  Anything that does not fall in to this envelope of normal can then be filed into your potential threat zone. 


An area where your awareness has flagged a different response or action.  Trust your gut to listen to anything that falls into the threat zone, work through the decision making process to find the actual source of the problem. 

Often many problems or situations may end up in your threat zone but if you sift through them you will generally find that there is ONE main cause of which the rest are affects.

It is much easier to identify and solve if you remove the clutter.  I will show some examples of this later.

If you ignore something that falls into your threat zone initially, it will probably get bigger and harder to fix.  So the moral of the story is to gain clarity and deal with items when they are just not normally in your envelope – get them in their infant stage.

Avoiding complacency…

Complacency is a hidden danger.  You will end up flying long days possibly on the same route for a while.  You may be on the same type of aircraft for a while. 

It doesn’t really matter the situation, what matters is remaining aware of the potential to become complacent. 

We looked at how fatigue affects you also in a previous eClass. 

We have been on the same type of aircraft for 15 years and that makes us the experts at complacency avoidance!

My tips for avoiding complacency…

  1. Respect what you are achieving whether it’s 500kg or 70 tonnes – you are defying gravity
  2. Be on the alert to learn something new
  3. Never assume that you know everything
  4. Challenge yourself to becoming better at your weak spots (everyone’s got one!)
  5. Expand your knowledge to the next level of your licence or other areas in your company (or give back to the industry through mentoring – ring any bells for you about us!)


Scenario 1 General Aviation Op’s – No response from ATC

Let’s say you do a position report and get no response from Air Traffic Control.  You know normally they respond pretty much immediately.  Move this into your threat zone as it is different to normal. 

Monitor the flight path at all times.


Dummy Checks -see if there is a simple explanation ie. Wrong frequency, microphone unplugged or circuit breaker popped.  Review what you have tried.  Exhaust any other solutions.

Monitor the flight path at all times.


Determine the main problem – radio failure.

Determine the main solution – where can I land?

Monitor the flight path at all times.



Apply radio failure procedures including limitations for continued operations to your destination.  Aviate, Navigate, Communicate (communicate in this scenario may be through other means such as squawk code.)

Mentor notes…

Notice the reference to monitoring the flight path.  As simple as that sounds, it can save your bacon.

Notice the clarity of the problem before launching into the solution for landing.

 Scenario 2 Jet Op’s – Weather radar paints some weather when you are still 200 miles away.

Move to threat zone as if weather is already painting at 200 miles you know from experience that it must be substantial.

Monitor the flight path at all times.


Dummy Checks – adjust radar to confirm.  Confirm fuel status.  Update ATIS.  Be alert for aircraft comments ahead. 

Monitor the flight path at all times.


Apply rules regarding distance from storm cells for enroute and approach/landing.

Monitor the flight path at all times.


Determine the main problem.  May not be able to land at destination.

Determine the main solution.  Where can I land?

Monitor the flight path at all time.


Apply diversion procedures.  Confirm status of alternate (weather, restrictions for jet traffic regarding pavement restrictions and space).  Plan latest divert time and consider bugging out early to avoid the rush – sometimes first in best dressed.

Mentor notes…

Notice the reference to monitoring the flight path.  As simple as that sounds, it can save your bacon.

Notice the clarity of the problem before launching into the solution for landing.

I have used these scenarios for different ends of the experience spectrum to demonstrate that the system is the same.

Keeping it simple always helps find the best outcome.

PART 3: Risk Management.

To keep all of our mums happy I have come up with some practical ways to approach the risk management of hidden dangers. 

You should be pleased to know that you are in a safe industry that continually evolves procedures for the good of all.

Every industry risk manages but aviation is just better at it.  You will have a different operating envelope at the start which also evolves as you gain experience.

It mostly expands but regularly retracts to keep you honest and prevent you from becoming complacent.

The ideal approach to risk management…

  • Cautious and thoughtful
  • Find the one decision you are needing to make
  • Clear the clutter
  • Learn and file experiences
  • Manage risk even when you don’t think its present
  • Never assume
  • Remember that landing the plane safely is the goal

PART 4: Questions for You.

    1. List some known and unknown dangers that you can see now.
    2. What strategies are there to counteract hidden dangers.
    3. Review the ideal approach to risk management.  Which ones come naturally to you and which ones do you need to work at?

Next week’s preview…’Stress Management…’

Find out how doing anything that you can even before you start will be of immense value to your career.

Congratulations on completing this Eclass.  Check out below the Eclass calender to see what’s in store!

If you need to use our Pilot Advice Service or have any questions or comments please send them to info@ouraviationsecrets.com

Don’t miss out on a opportunity by procrastinating.

Look forward to speaking with you at the Webinar.

Don’t Worry!

You will be sent the Webinar Invitation Link and Instructions closer to the time.

To Your Flying Success!

http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54492-156-8639FF5164CAE1AC8E9290F679F028DBCaptain Craig Baker

Airline Pilot and Professional Pilot Mentor