Flying in Adverse Conditions

Flying in Adverse Conditions

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8673-1.ch013
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Material concerning flying in adverse conditions is presented in this chapter. This is designed to supplement that which has already been presented and provide additional insight into this important topic. When operating in adverse conditions and time constraints, pilots must deal with weather conditions, human limitations, and uncertainty. Adverse conditions make up the bulk of the encounter with mission critical events originating from external sources. Environmentally generated mission critical events, such as adverse wind conditions producing strong crosswinds, are important to consider from an operational safety perspective. Wind shear during approach operations should be carefully evaluated, often requiring the abandonment of the approach in favor of another runway or a diversion.
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Risk Definition In Aviation Industry

Over the years the aviation industry has developed strategies, procedures, and improved systems to make air transportation safer. However, accidents still occur. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, “The global accident rate [in 2013] was 2.8 accidents per million departures” (Jackman, 2014). Despite technical developments or improvements, there are still hazards and risks present in nature. Risk is defined as the probability of damage, injury, death, or any negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities that may be avoided through preemptive actions. A risk is qualified by its likelihood of occurrence and severity of consequence, as illustrated in the following matrix.

Figure 1.

Risk assessment matrix


The elimination of risk in aviation operations obviously is an unachievable and impractical goal since being perfectly safe would mean stopping all aviation activities and to ground all aircraft. As not all risks can be removed, neither are all possible risk mitigation measures economically practical.

In other words, it is accepted that there will be some risk of harm to people, property, or the environment, but this is considered to be acceptable or tolerable by the responsible authorities and society. As risk managers, pilots play a vital role in addressing the risk in practical terms. It requires a coherent and consistent process of objective analysis, in particular for evaluating the operational risks. In general, risk management is a structured and systematic approach to achieve the balance between the identified and assessed risk and to mitigate that risk.

Risk management consists of three essential elements: hazard identification, risk assessment, and risk mitigation. Hazard identification is identifying adverse events that can lead to a hazard and analyzing mechanisms by which these events may occur and cause harm. Both reactive and proactive methods and techniques should be used for hazard identification. Identified hazards are assessed in terms of the criticality of their harmful effect and ranked in order of their risk-bearing potential. They are assessed often by experienced personnel or by more formal techniques and through analytical expertise. The severity of consequences and the likelihood (frequency) of occurrence of hazards are determined. If the risk is considered acceptable, operation continues without any intervention, if it is not acceptable, a risk mitigation process is engaged. If the risk is considered to be unacceptable, then control measures are taken to fortify and increase the level of defenses or to avoid or remove the risk.


Operation In Various Adverse Conditions And Time Constraints

Having defined the pilot’s mission in risk management, we have to highlight what these hazards or adverse events are. Time constraint reveals two dimensions; the first is the amount of time available to react facing an event, and the second dimension is the amount of time an individual perceives before they act. In the latter dimension, there is a “hurry up” syndrome well known among pilots. The hurry up syndrome happens when a pilot’s performance is degraded by a perceived or actual need to hurry or rush tasks or duties for any reason. These time-related pressures include the need of a company agent or ground personnel to open a gate for another aircraft or pressure from Air Traffic Control to expedite the taxi for takeoff or to meet a restriction in clearance time, to stay on schedule despite delays, or to avoid exceeding duty time regulations.

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