By Paola Maund
The current unprecedented pandemic suggests pilots should remind themselves about the importance of assessing their fitness to fly.
IMSAFE is a commonly known mnemonic that can be used to assess your fitness to fly and is widely used in the industry.
I - Illness - Do I have an illness or any symptoms of an illness?
M - Medication - Have I been taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs?
S - Stress - Am I under psychological pressure from the job? Are you worried about financial matters, health problems or family discord?
A - Alcohol - Have I been drinking within eight hours? Within 24 hours?
F - Fatigue - Am I tired and not adequately rested?
E - Eating - Am I adequately nourished?
Across the CAE training network, we use a Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT) that serves a similar purpose. Completing a FRAT is a mandatory requirement before any flight in a CAE aircraft and it helps ensure that pilots go through a self-assessment process before jumping in an aircraft. Since we started using the FRAT, the result has been a dramatic increase in flight safety.
The FRAT allows the proactive identification of possible hazards and provides ways for pilots to reduce risks accordingly.
The tool is a set of yes/no questions that the pilot must answer before every flight at the time of dispatch. For every question answered with YES, a type of risk is identified and a pre-determined score for that question is added to the total Flight Risk Score.
When the Flight Risk Score is below a specific value, the flight can go ahead. If it falls above a specific value, then the flight cannot go ahead. There may also be a middle set of values under which a flight can go ahead only if the identified risks are addressed.
A pilot’s qualifications and experience
A pilot’s wellbeing: physical and mental health, quality of rest and time since last meal
The operating environment including the weather, flight conditions, environmental considerations such as flights over water or over mountainous terrain, air traffic control provision, etc
The equipment on board and if there is any inoperable equipment
Any risk assessment tool cannot guarantee a safe flight. Safety is ultimately the responsibility of the pilot. However, it does provide additional means to help the pilot make sound safety decisions.
The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone globally, both mentally and financially. We find ourselves in unprecedented times and can’t precisely predict how everyone is affected or might be feeling on any given day. The use of a tool, such as the FRAT, can help in ensuring pilots assess their fitness to fly and mitigate risk factors.
Blue Skies, Fly Safe! Do not take unnecessary risks.
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