What do you mean by Airmanship?

What do you mean by Airmanship?

For many years, a fundamental element of air safety has been described as “airmanship”. Some examples are,

“Maintaining a good lookout is good airmanship”,

“Maintaining a safe speed near the ground is good airmanship”

“Deciding not to fly because you are not current is good airmanship”.

What is airmanship ?

There have been many attempts to define this in other ways, “situational awareness”, “common sense”, “Cockpit Resource Management” and “leadership” have all been used, but do not clearly and succinctly describe airmanship.

A model, which when considered as the components of a building from the foundation up, illustrate the 10 components which together describe airmanship. This model is illustrated below.

A pilot’s decision making, judgement and situational awareness abilities depend on building solid foundations and pillars of knowledge.

It is appropriate to expand a little on each of the components of the model to better understand the interdependency of each of these.

A high standard of airmanship requires:

Discipline  – a high degree of self discipline is required. Some examples of the maintenance of these high standards is the use of checklists, emergency planning before takeoff, personally deciding not to fly if your check flight is overdue and not taking any shortcuts in any aspect of flying.

Skill – the maintenance of a high level of skill. Skill is developed by knowledge, demonstration and practice. Flying must be continually practiced to maintain the skill. Competence will quickly diminish without practice

Proficiency – the maintenance of a high level of Proficiency, which can only be developed by practice and repetition.

One Self – this component is about knowing your own limitations and having the preparedness to self assess and analyse your own flying performance. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance or guidance with any aspect of flying with which there is some uncertainty. A check flight or review with an Instructor should not be seen or regarded as an imposition.

Aircraft – a pilot must have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the glider, its systems and components, speeds and limitations, including the airworthiness status and all maintenance requirements.

Team  – flying is dependant upon a team – winch driver, ground crew etc. A pilot must ensure these aspects are available in sufficient number to conduct flying operations safely. The team also involves Instructors, maintenance personnel, retreive crews etc.

Environment  – there are many aspect to “environment” associated with gliding. Some of the environments are

– cockpit.

– airspace, which is continually changing.

– weather

– terrain

– other airspace users

Good airmanship requires a pilots to maintain a good understanding and awareness of all the aspects of the environment influences in which we fly.

This is achieved by preparation, keeping a good lookout while flying, keeping a close listening watch on the radio, developing good situational awareness skills, understanding and watching the weather.

Risk  – the identification, assessment and control of risk, with the aim of reducing the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. Some aspects which glider pilots will be familiar with in risk reduction or minimisation are,

– Maintaining a good lookout.

– Maintaining a safe speed near the ground.

– Performing (habitually) checks, ideally using a checklists.

– Deciding not to fly in conditions which are hazardous.

– Deciding not to fly if unwell.

– Requesting a checkflight if not in current flying practice.

(Many flying organisations today require a check flight if a

period of 90 days has elapsed since the previous flight)

Situational Awareness  – a pilot must develop and maintain a high level of situational awareness. This is an awareness of everything which is taking place around the glider, and includes issues such as other airspace users, airspace requirements (ie controlled airspace) navigation, weather, outlanding areas, etc.

Judgement & decision making  – a pilot must develop and maintain a good level of judgement and decision making. This high level is developed by education and training followed b regular practice to polish and maintain the skills. Using good judgement and making the right decisions is vital to the safe conduct of any flight.

Pilots are encouraged to regularly self assess and analyse their own performance in each component of the model described above. Am I current ?, Am I proficient in every aspect of flying ?, Where or how can I improve my own performance ? are just some of the question to ask yourself.

Good airmanship on the part of all pilots will greatly increase the safety of flying at the same time making it more enjoyable.

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