From the Flight Deck features insights from the core of our aviation family – our pilots! This issue, learn more about the “fit to fly” checklist with Mike Kopp, Jet Linx Director of Operations and longtime pilot.
Preflight checklists are a familiar tool used by responsible pilots. Even as students, pilots learn to assess themselves for fitness to fly. The FAA gives us a mnemonic device to use as a checklist to help us determine our fitness for duty. The personal checklist for I am physically and mentally safe to fly; not impaired by (“I’m Safe”) covers:
Illness: Common colds and other minor illness suffered day-to-day can seriously degrade performance of piloting tasks. Although symptoms may be under control of over-the-counter medications, the medications themselves may cause impairment. The best solution is to never fly when suffering from an illness or consult an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) before taking flight.
Medication: Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also degrade pilot performance. The regulations prohibit performance of crewmember duties when using any medications that affect the faculties in any way that would degrade safety. Pilots are always advised not to perform crewmember duties while taking any medications unless approved by the FAA/AME.
Stress: Physical, environmental and psychological stress play a significant role in pilot performance. When suffering any of these types of stress, the safest action is to refrain from flying until the stresses are managed or relieved.
Alcohol: Seems simple and straight forward, consuming alcohol reduces our ability to perform. No person may serve as a crewmember within eight hours of consuming alcohol. The best practice is to allow 12 to 24 hours recovery time between “bottle and throttle,” because even after eight hours you may still feel the effects of alcohol.
Fatigue: A normal fact of life yet one of the most treacherous hazards to aviation safety. Fatigue often is not recognized until an error has been made. It is described as acute (short term) or chronic (long term).
Emotion: Even the most mentally sound individuals cannot always park their emotions in the lot before getting into the airplane. If a pilot has had a recent family or financial catastrophe, that pilot should not fly until they have recovered from the emotional stress of that event.