Chapter 9. Risk Management

Step 5: Implement Risk Controls

A plan for applying the selected controls must be formulated, the time, materials, and personnel needed to put these measures in place must be provided.

Step 6: Supervise and Review

Once controls are in place, the process must be reevaluated periodically to ensure their effectiveness. People at every level must fulfill their respective roles to assure the controls are maintained over time. The risk management process continues throughout the life cycle of the system, mission, or activity.

Implementing the Risk Management Process

To derive maximum benefit from this powerful tool, it must be used properly. The following principles are essential.

  • Apply the steps in sequence—each step is a building block for the next, and must be completed before proceeding to the next. If a hazard identification step is interrupted to focus on the control of a particular hazard, more important hazards may be overlooked. Until all hazards are identified, the remainder of the process is not effective.
  • Maintain a balance in the process—all steps are important. Allocate the time and resources to perform all.
  • Apply the process in a cycle—the “supervise and review” step should include a brand new look at the operation being analyzed to see whether new hazards can be identified.
  • Involve people in the process—ensure that risk controls are mission supportive, and the people who must do the work see them as positive actions. The people who are actually exposed to risks usually know best what works and what does not.

Level of Risk

The level of risk posed by a given hazard is measured in terms of:

  • Severity (extent of possible loss)
  • Probability (likelihood that a hazard will cause a loss)

Assessing Risk

Assessment of risk is an important part of good risk management. For example, the hazard of a nick in the propeller poses a risk only if the airplane is flown. If the damaged prop is exposed to the constant vibration of normal engine operation, there is a high risk is that it could fracture and cause catastrophic damage to the engine and/or airframe and the passengers.

Every flight has hazards and some level of risk associated with it. It is critical that pilots and especially students are able to differentiate in advance between a low-risk flight and a high-risk flight, and then establish a review process and develop risk mitigation strategies to address flights throughout that range.

For the single pilot, assessing risk is not as simple as it sounds. For example, the pilot acts as his or her own quality control in making decisions. If a fatigued pilot who has flown 16 hours is asked if he or she is too tired to continue flying, the answer may be no. Most pilots are goal oriented and, when asked to accept a flight, there is a tendency to deny personal limitations while adding weight to issues not germane to the mission. For example, pilots of helicopter emergency services (EMS) have been known to make flight decisions that add significant weight to the patient’s welfare. These pilots add weight to intangible factors (the patient in this case) and fail to appropriately quantify actual hazards such as fatigue or weather when making flight decisions. The single pilot who has no other crew member for consultation must wrestle with the intangible factors that draw one into a hazardous position. Therefore, he or she has a greater vulnerability than a full crew.

Examining National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports and other accident research can help a pilot learn to assess risk more effectively. For example, the accident rate during night VFR decreases by nearly 50 percent once a pilot obtains 100 hours, and continues to decrease until the 1,000 hour level. The data suggest that for the first 500 hours, pilots flying VFR at night might want to establish higher personal limitations than are required by the regulations and, if applicable, apply instrument flying skills in this environment.

Several risk assessment models are available to assist in the process of assessing risk. The models, all taking slightly different approaches, seek a common goal of assessing risk in an objective manner.

The most basic tool is the risk matrix. [Figure 9-2] It assesses two items: the likelihood of an event occurring and the consequence of that event.

Likelihood of an Event

Likelihood is nothing more than taking a situation and determining the probability of its occurrence. It is rated as probable, occasional, remote, or improbable. For example, a pilot is flying from point A to point B (50 miles) in marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) conditions. The likelihood of encountering potential instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) is the first question the pilot needs to answer. The experiences of other pilots, coupled with the forecast, might cause the pilot to assign “occasional” to determine the probability of encountering IMC.

The following are guidelines for making assignments.

  • Probable—an event will occur several times.
  • Occasional—an event will probably occur sometime.
  • Remote—an event is unlikely to occur, but is possible.
  • Improbable—an event is highly unlikely to occur.
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                      Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator