Setting personal minimums is an important step in mitigating risk, and safe pilots know how to properly self-assess. For example, in the opening scenario, the aircraft Mary plans to fly may have a maximum crosswind component of 15 knots listed in the aircraft flight manual (AFM), but she only has experience with 10 knots of direct crosswind. It could be unsafe to exceed a 10 knots crosswind component without additional training. Therefore, the 10 knot crosswind experience level is Mary’s personal limitation until additional training with Daniel provides her with additional experience for flying in crosswinds that exceed 10 knots.
Pilots in training must be taught that exercising good judgment begins prior to taking the controls of an aircraft. Often, pilots thoroughly check their aircraft to determine airworthiness, yet do not evaluate their own fitness for flight. Just as a checklist is used when preflighting an aircraft, a personal checklist based on such factors as experience, currency, and comfort level can help determine if a pilot is prepared for a particular flight.
Worksheets for a more in-depth risk assessment are located in the “FAA/Industry Training Standards Personal and Weather Risk Assessment Guide” located online at www.faa.gov. This guide is designed to assist pilots in developing personal standardized procedures for accomplishing PIC responsibilities and in making better preflight and inflight weather decisions. CFIs should stress that frequent review of the personal guide keeps the information fresh and increases a pilot’s ability to recognize the conditions in which a new risk assessment should be made, a key element in the decision-making process.