3 Pilot Mental Processes of Safe Flight

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The same FAA document also covers three mental processes related to safe flight. These processes include automatic reaction, problem resolving, and repeated reviewing. Good pilots are actually performing many activities at the same time while they fly. Altitude, heading, and attitude are all constantly monitored and the airplane is adjusted to maintain the desired values. After a period of time, pilots no longer think consciously about what they need to do with their hands and feet to make the airplane do something; it just happens as they automatically make the controls move in the proper way to fly the plane the way they want. This is known as automatic reaction.

Problem solving is a three-step process that includes:
1. Uncover, define, and analyze the problem.
2. Consider the methods and outcomes of possible solutions.
3. Apply the selected solution to the best of your ability.

Through taking these steps, you will improve your ability to understand problems and resolve them. By correctly determining the actual cause of a problem, rather than misunderstanding it, you can aid in making better decisions to resolve it. The poor judgment chain can be avoided or broken through the use of good problem-solving skills.

The last mental process is repeated reviewing. This is the process of “continuously trying to find or anticipate situations that might require problem resolving or automatic reaction.” Part of this skill includes using feedback related to poor decisions. As you fly, you need to constantly be aware of the factors that affect your flight, including yourself, the plane, weather, and anything else that could be a factor. Through remaining “situationally aware,” you will be better informed and able to analyze the actual conditions you are flying in. An old aviation axiom sums up the foregoing: Superior pilots use superior judgment to avoid situations requiring superior skill.

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