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Before taking to the sky, a pilot must first go through a preflight checklist to ensure that the plane is ready to travel. Operating an aircraft safely requires extensive training, vigilance, and adherence to safety standards. Read on to learn more about what is expected of a pilot before take off.
Preflight Checklist for Commercial Pilots
When working as a commercial pilot, the position requires a lot of responsibility and accountability for the safety of the crew, passengers, and any cargo. To make sure that a plane is safe for take-off, a pilot may want to go through a personal assessment of their flight readiness, and a preflight checklist.
Going through established checklists is an established method of maintaining organization, safety standards, and assessing for any problems that may arise that can interfere with flying safely.
After spending a dedicated amount of time at an institution to earn a degree in Aeronautical Science and Technology, a pilot undergoes rigorous hours of flight training.
Commercial pilots use a preflight checklist to make sure the hydraulics, engine, and other critical parts of an airplane are in working order. A commercial pilot must be fit in mind and body to fly an aircraft, maintain safe operation of the plane at all times, and be aware of any oncoming obstacles or intense turbulence.
The Establishment Of Checklists For Pilots
Human error is inevitably going to show up from time to time. Whether in a rush or absentmindedly overlooking whether a specific function or part of an aircraft is working correctly before take-off can lead to needless accidents.
The Boeing Corporation has been credited with the established use of a preflight checklist to help pilots reduce the chance of accidents and fatal crashes during flight. It is easy to be overconfident, or miss out on checking everything thoroughly before taking to the air if a pilot fails to utilize a checklist.
According to Angle of Attack, when the Boeing Corporation had vested interests with government contracts for its B-17 aircraft as used in WWII, they had some unfortunate accidents which could have tanked their contracts.
During the test flight of a B-17 aircraft, the Captain had failed to ensure that the elevator lock was off before taking off. This oversight resulted in the injuries of three men, and some fatalities. To curry favor with the government as the company to negotiate a contract with for military aircraft versus competitors, Boeing developed a preflight checklist to reduce accidents, injuries, and malfunctions due to oversight.
Thanks to the implementation of checklists for pilots before taking to the skies, Boeing’s B-17 aircraft did not incur any more accidents, and 13,000 aircraft were manufactured for government use during the war efforts against Axis powers.
Many pilots can learn to commit to the general overview of checklist steps preflight to memory, using devices like acronyms. However, commercial pilots should not skip out on using a checklist to verify that all appropriate actions have been taken for aviation safety.
Performing Necessary Checks Before Flying
The first step in checking out an aircraft for its flight worthiness takes place outside of the airplane.
The Captain or Co-pilot is responsible for surveying the aircraft’s exterior. The Captain or Co-pilot should be in communication with the maintenance crew, in case there are any immediate concerns about the plane’s condition.
Any exposed motors, cables, sensors, and other structural components should be thoroughly investigated for its function and condition.
Inside the aircraft, the crew is responsible for running tests for fire detection, weather radars, warning lights, and other necessary systems.
Maintaining up-to-date records and inventory on aircraft, and routinely doing maintenance checks at various hours of flight time use are conducted to increase aviation safety.
Checklists are a valuable tool for pilots to check for normal operations, unusual incidents, malfunctions of equipment, and in case of an emergency. Most pilots may access their checklist in the form of a printed card, or laminated sheet to keep it protected and legible.
According to sources such as Ask the Pilot, a pilot can look forward to going through more than thirty different steps, depending on the age and type of aircraft. Newer aircraft may automatically go through specific tests of necessary equipment.
While going through a checklist, one pilot can go through each step asking the other pilot to verify with a response as to whether the step has been completed successfully or not. Keeping a good stream of communication between flight staff can help reduce the risk of oversight and an unwanted accident.
Getting ready to take flight can bring on a lot of enthusiasm which can prove distracting. Pilots must also be aware of their physical and mental condition before committing to fly, in case they are too fatigued or feeling ill.
Maintaining an aircraft at a safe level require attention to detail, a calm mind, and making sure to go through checklists thoroughly.
Overall, pilots need to check the following before moving forward with starting up the airplane to get going.
Pilots should check the landing gear, engine, control surfaces, and tiresThe wings, turbines, and control mechanisms should be in working orderEmergency warning systems and lights in case of a fire, loss of air pressure, and other conditions
Pilots should ensure the fuel levels and oil are good for the flight and be prepared in case of emergency
Checking In With The Pilot Before Take Off
Before a pilot gets into the cockpit and gets comfortable, they need to go through a checklist for preflight, startup, and right before takeoff. Pilots may also go through troubleshooting checklists and emergency checklists.
Flying for long hours at a time can be stressful and bring on fatigue for a pilot, so assessing a pilot’s’ health and energy levels is essential to operate a commercial aircraft safely. Passengers and cargo both depend on a physically, mentally, and emotionally well pilot to fly with confidence and follow safety procedures.
The FAA has established a checklist for pilots before getting behind the controls, to make sure that they are well enough to fly. The checklist known as IMSAFE provides a helpful mnemonic device that commercial pilots can use to assess their health.
Pilots should check for illness, whether they are on medication that can impair judgment if they are under stress, are under the influence of alcohol, suffering fatigue, or have emotional distress that can distract them from doing their job safely.
An illness can put a pilot out of commission, especially if the changes in air pressure can prove too distracting or harmful during climbing or descending the aircraft.
If a medication that a pilot has taken is still in effect where it can cause a pilot to feel overly drowsy, confused, or impairs sound judgment, the pilot should not fly.
Stress can affect people differently, but being responsible for a host of passengers and a flight crew requires a level head and calm emotions. If a pilot has suffered a stressful event such as a death of a loved one or needs to take some time off to release tensions and anxiety, they should. Some pilots may perform well under stress, but it may not be the smartest or safest decision.
According to FAA rules, a pilot is not permitted to operate an aircraft if they are under the influence of alcohol, or have consumed an alcoholic beverage in the past eight hours. Additionally, if a pilot has a blood alcohol level of 0.4% or greater, they are to stay grounded.
Pilots should be on the lookout for intense exhaustion and fatigue. Spending lots of time in the air and going through jet lag can take their toll on judgment calls and maintaining a heightened awareness. If a pilot needs to get more sleep or does not recognize their need for rest because of fatigue, they can risk their lives and the lives of any passengers and crew on the aircraft during operation.
Pilots are professionals, but they too can suffer from bouts of depression, anxiety, stress, or emotional instability. When a pilot is not feeling of sound mind to fly an aircraft, they should not do so. Seeking out professional help for any emotional distress is helpful to get a pilot back to a healthy mental state to operate an aircraft better more safely.
Ensuring Flight Safety Is Priority Number One
Commercial pilots are enlisted to fly airplanes, helicopters, and charter jets. To maintain a standard of safe operation, pilots commit to going through various checklists in stages before even thinking about taking to the sky.
To reduce the risk of an accident, injury, or fatality while in an aircraft, checklists were established. A pilot is expected to execute thorough visual and physical examination of a plane’s working parts, keep meticulous records via logs, and communicate with maintenance, co-pilots, and other crew to ensure that an aircraft is in safe working order to fly.
Patiently testing emergency systems, checking fuel and oil levels, and making sure that the right parts are left locked or unlocked can lessen the chance of something going wrong. Being aware of weather patterns, preparation in case of a detour, and being emotionally, mentally, and physically well enough to fly is vital to a safe flight every time.