Chapter 9. Risk Management

Principles of Risk Management

Accept No Unnecessary Risk

Unnecessary risk is that which carries no commensurate return in terms of benefits or opportunities. Everything involves risk. The most logical choices for accomplishing an operation are those that meet all requirements with the minimum acceptable risk. The corollary to this axiom is “accept necessary risk” required to complete the operation or task successfully. Flying is impossible without risk, but unnecessary risk comes without a corresponding return. If flying a new airplane for the first time, a CFI might determine that the risk of making that flight in low instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions is unnecessary.

Make Risk Decisions at the Appropriate Level

Anyone can make a risk decision. However, the appropriate decision-maker is the person who can develop and implement risk controls. The decision-maker must be authorized to accept levels of risk typical of the planned operation. In a single-pilot situation, the pilot makes the decision to accept certain levels of risk. In the maintenance facility, an aviation maintenance technician (AMT) may need to elevate decisions to the next level in the chain of management upon determining that those controls available to him or her will not reduce residual risk to an acceptable level.

Accept Risk When Benefits Outweigh the Costs

All identified benefits should be compared against all identified costs. Even high-risk endeavors may be undertaken when there is clear knowledge that the sum of the benefits exceeds the sum of the costs. For example, in any flying activity, it is necessary to accept some degree of risk. A day with good weather, for example, is a much better time to fly an unfamiliar airplane for the first time than a day with low instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions.

Integrate Risk Management Into Planning at All Levels

Risks are more easily assessed and managed in the planning stages of an operation. The later changes are made in the process of planning and executing an operation, the more expensive and time consuming they become. Because risk is an unavoidable part of every flight, safety requires the use of appropriate and effective risk management not just in the preflight planning stage, but in all stages of the flight.

Risk Management Process

Risk management is a simple process which identifies operational hazards and takes reasonable measures to reduce risk to personnel, equipment, and the mission.

Step 1: Identify the Hazard

A hazard is defined as any real or potential condition that can cause degradation, injury, illness, death, or damage to or loss of equipment or property. Experience, common sense, and specific analytical tools help identify risks.

Step 2: Assess the Risk

The assessment step is the application of quantitative and qualitative measures to determine the level of risk associated with specific hazards. This process defines the probability and severity of an accident that could result from the hazards based upon the exposure of humans or assets to the hazards.

Step 3: Analyze Risk Control Measures

Investigate specific strategies and tools that reduce, mitigate, or eliminate the risk. All risks have two components:

  • Probability of occurrence
  • Severity of the hazard

Effective control measures reduce or eliminate at least one of these. The analysis must take into account the overall costs and benefits of remedial actions, providing alternative choices if possible.

Step 4: Make Control Decisions

Identify the appropriate decision-maker. That decision-maker must choose the best control or combination of controls, based on the analysis of steps 1 and 2.

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