Chapter 9. Risk Management

Assessing SRM Skills

A student’s performance is often assessed only on a technical level. The instructor determines whether maneuvers are technically accurate and that procedures are performed in the right order. In SRM assessment, instructors must learn to assess students on a different level. How did the student arrive at a particular decision? What resources were used? Was risk assessed accurately when a go/no-go decision was made? Did the student maintain situational awareness in the traffic pattern? Was workload managed effectively during a cross-country flight? How does the student handle stress and fatigue?

Instructors should continually evaluate student decision-making ability and offer suggestions for improvement. It is not always necessary to present complex situations, which require detailed analysis. By allowing students to make decisions about typical issues that arise throughout the course of training, such as their fitness to fly, weather conditions, and equipment problems, instructors can address effective decision-making and allow students to develop judgment skills. For example, when a discrepancy is found during preflight inspection, the student should be allowed to initially determine the action to be taken. Then the effectiveness of the student’s choice and other options that may be available can be discussed. Opportunities for improving decision-making abilities occur often during training. If the tower offers the student a runway that requires landing with a tailwind in order to expedite traffic, the student can be directed to assess the risks involved and asked to present alternative actions to be taken. Perhaps the most frequent choice that has to be made during flight training is the go/no-go decision based on weather. While the final choice to fly lies with the instructor, students can be required to assess the weather prior to each flight and make a go/no-go determination.

In addition, instructors should utilize SBT to create lessons that are specifically designed to test whether students are applying SRM skills. Planning a flight lesson in which the student is presented with simulated emergencies, a heavy workload, or other operational problems can be valuable in assessing the student’s judgment and decision-making skills. During the flight, student performance can be evaluated for workload and/or stress management.

As discussed in chapter 5, SRM grades are based on these four components:

  • Explain—the student can verbally identify, describe, and understand the risks inherent in the flight scenario. The student needs to be prompted to identify risks and make decisions.
  • Practice—the student is able to identify, understand, and apply SRM principles to the actual flight situation. Coaching, instruction, and/or assistance from the CFI quickly corrects minor deviations and errors identified by the CFI. The student is an active decision maker.
  • Manage/Decide—the student can correctly gather the most important data available both within and outside the flight deck, identify possible courses of action, evaluate the risk inherent in each course of action, and make the appropriate decision. Instructor intervention is not required for the safe completion of the flight.
  • Not Observed—any event not accomplished or required.• Not Observed—any event not accomplished or required.• Not Observed—any event not accomplished or required.

Postflight, collaborative assessment or learner centered grading (LCG) (also discussed in chapter 5), is a vital component of assessing a student’s SRM skills. As a reminder, collaborative assessment includes two parts: learner self-assessment and a detailed assessment by the flight instructor. The purpose of the self-assessment is to stimulate growth in the student’s thought processes and, in turn, behaviors. The self-assessment is followed by an in-depth discussion between the flight instructor and the student which compares the CFI’s assessment to the student’s self-assessment.

An important element of SRM skills assessment is that the CFI provides a clear picture of the progress the student is making during the training. Grading should also be progressive. During each flight, the student should achieve a new level of learning. For flight one, the automation management area might be a “describe” item. By flight three, it would be a “practice” item, and by flight five, a “manage-decide” item.

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