Anticipation Meet Situational Awareness

One of the most important qualities that make a pilot stand out above others, is the ability to anticipate things to come. How many times have I seen a pilot get totally behind the aircraft during a multi-tasking event? It is a question of staying ahead and being able to see what is coming next and how to deal with it effectively. 

It is not an easy task. You can teach a certain degree of anticipation, but it is normally mastered with experience.  Some pilots may have reached thousands of hours and still are not capable of anticipating efficiently or correctly. It is a major failing point if you are incapable of anticipating. No anticipation then no plan. Failing to plan, is planning to fail!

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By: Michel Treskin
Written: 26.04.2019

 

Anticipation is connected to seeing the big picture. It is also connected to situational awareness (SA) – another very important quality we (pilot selectors) look for. Simply put; pilots cannot fly safely without being situationally aware. Being situationally aware makes you a better anticipator. They work hand in hand.

I remember checking out two captains in a simulator session where I gave them an engine failure (flame out) on a go-around. Neither one noticed the gear was still down until they were back on the radar vector on base leg for another approach and they went to select the gear down. At that moment, both looked at each other and were totally dumb struck! No wonder we were using so much power to maintain level flight (one engine inoperative).

 

 

Anticipate Effectively

During the ab initio training, the training aircraft has a speed that is easy to keep up with. This is where you are first introduced to staying ahead of the aircraft. Once you know the gist of the exercise and you are reasonably comfortable with the aircraft, your situational awareness will be heightened. Once you leave the slow approach speed of the single-engine training aircraft and jump onto the faster twin, you will adapt quickly to the quicker pace of things to come.

Remember that a lack of knowledge will add more stress, and this will affect the ability to stay ahead of the aircraft and procedures. You will feel overloaded and you will start losing situational awareness very quickly. You need to stay on top of the aircraft systems, performance and procedures. It will then become secondary and you will be able to concentrate on upcoming events. You will be able to anticipate effectively!

 

Most pilots will research and review key points before a scheduled (rostered) flight. So, no surprises when getting the flight plan! They will look over the forecasted weather including winds and turbulence and lots of interpretation. They will review approach plates and plan a descent accordingly to their last planned flight level. By doing so, they are preparing themselves mentally and have a better air picture of what to be expected when they are in the pre-flight planning stage. Imagine yourself driving to a destination where you know where to stop for fuel, what road you need to follow, where the tolls and rest areas are.  Imagine how easier it would make your journey. You would be able to anticipate things to come and you would have a better picture of where you are and where you are going.

 

You might also be interested in: ‘Knowing is Paramount’

Imagine yourself driving to a destination where you know where to stop for fuel, what road you need to follow, where the tolls and rest areas are.  Imagine how easier it would make your journey. You would be able to anticipate things to come and you would have a better picture of where you are and where you are going.

Loss of situational awareness contributed, to some degree, to most major aircraft accidents. Classic examples would be CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) accidents where the aircraft is perfectly serviceable and is flown into terrain.

You cannot fly safely without situational awareness! It is your raison d’être!

Happy landings and stay safe!