Automation management is the control and navigation of an aircraft by means of the automated systems installed in the aircraft. One of the most important concepts of automation management is simply knowing when to use it and when not to use it.

Ideally, a pilot first learns to perform practical test standard (PTS) maneuvers and procedures in the aircraft manually, or hand flying. After successfully demonstrating proficiency in the basic maneuvers, the pilot is then introduced to the available automation and/or the autopilot. Obviously, in some aircraft, not all automated systems may be disengaged for basic flight. The purpose of basic flight without automation is to ensure the pilot can hand fly the maneuver when necessary.

Advanced avionics offer multiple levels of automation, from strictly manual flight to highly automated flight. No one level of automation is appropriate for all flight situations, but to avoid potentially dangerous distractions when flying with advanced avionics, the pilot must know how to manage the course indicator, the navigation source, and the autopilot. It is important for a pilot to know the peculiarities of the particular automated system in use. This ensures the pilot knows what to expect, how to monitor for proper operation, and promptly take appropriate action if the system does not perform as expected.

At the most basic level, managing the autopilot means knowing at all times which modes are engaged and which modes are armed to engage. The pilot needs to verify that armed functions (e.g., navigation tracking or altitude capture) engage at the appropriate time. Automation management is a good place to practice the call-out technique, especially after arming the system to make a change in course or altitude.

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Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Awareness

An emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter departed for a night flight to transport an 11-day-old infant patient from one hospital to another. No record was found indicating the pilot obtained a weather briefing before departure. The pilot had a choice of taking either a direct route that crossed a remote area of rugged mountainous terrain […]

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Situational Awareness

In addition to learning to make good aeronautical decisions, and learning to manage risk and flight workload, situation awareness (SA) is an important element of ADM. Situational awareness is the accurate perception and understanding of all the factors and conditions within the four fundamental risk elements (PAVE) that affect safety before, during, and after the […]

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Workload or Task Management

One component of SRM is workload or task management. Research shows that humans have a limited capacity for information. Once information flow exceeds the person’s ability to mentally process the information, any additional information becomes unattended or displaces other tasks and information already being processed. Once this situation occurs, only two alternatives exist: shed the […]

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Using the 3P Model To Form Good Safety Habits

As discussed in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, the Perceive, Process, Perform (3P) model helps a pilot assess and manage risk effectively in the real world. [Figure 14-6] To use this model, the pilot will: Perceive hazards Process level of risk Perform risk management Let’s put this to use through a common scenario, involving […]

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Risk Management

Risk management is a formalized way of dealing with hazards. It is the logical process of weighing the potential cost of risks from hazards against the possible benefits of allowing those risks from hazards to stand unmitigated. It is a decision-making process designed to identify hazards systematically, assess the degree of risk, and determine the […]

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Single-Pilot Resource Management

Many of the concepts utilized in CRM have been successfully applied to single-pilot operations which led to the development of SRM. Defined as the art and science of managing all the resources (both on board the aircraft and from outside resources) available to a single pilot (prior to and during flight), SRM ensures the successful […]

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Pilot Self-Assessment

The PIC of an aircraft is directly responsible for and is the final authority for the operation of that aircraft. The list of PIC responsibilities is long, and nothing should be overlooked. To exercise those responsibilities effectively and make effective decisions regarding the outcome of a flight, a pilot must have an understanding of personal […]

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Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) (Part Two)

Trescott Tips Max Trescott, Master CFI and Master Ground Instructor and winner of the 2008 CFI of the year, has published numerous safety tips that every pilot should heed. He believes that the word “probably” should be purged from our flying vocabulary. Mr. Trescott contends that “probably” means we’ve done an informal assessment of the […]

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Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) (Part One)

Making good choices sounds easy enough. However, there are a multitude of factors that come into play when these choices, and subsequent decisions, are made in the aeronautical world. Many tools are available for pilots to become more self aware and assess the options available, along with the impact of their decision. Yet, with all […]

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Helicopter Night VFR Operations

While ceiling and visibility significantly affect safety in night VFR operations, lighting conditions also have a profound effect on safety. Even in conditions in which visibility and ceiling are determined to be visual meteorological conditions, the ability to discern unlit or low contrast objects and terrain at night may be compromised. The ability to discern […]

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