How Pilots Evaluate Risk

More

Just one more note on the subject of risk (discussed previously here) ...


As mentioned in that previous post, most people underestimate the risks associated with driving, in large part because it's a familiar activity and we feel some measure of control in the process (whether or not that's really true). At the same time, most people overestimate the risks associated with flying on airliners, because it's not a familiar activity, and they don't feel as if they're in control. 

Thought I should add ... ironically, pilots (I'm specifically talking general aviation pilots, here) often have the same trouble accurately estimating the risks associated with flying that most drivers have estimating the risks of driving. And for the very same reasons. We all tend to underestimate the risks of activities that are familiar, and where we feel as if we're in control. And when it comes to flying, the pilots are in control. Or, at least, it feels that way. Especially because the risk of a collision, high on roads, is very low in the air. 

In recognition of this fact, the general aviation industry (general aviation meaning smaller, non-airline aircraft) has begun putting much more emphasis on risk assessment and risk management skills in private pilot training, in recent years. Can risk management training overcome our innate human tendencies? Not entirely. But if we gave the same kind of training to drivers on the road, my guess is that it would at least reduce the number of accidents ... the same goal trainers are trying to achieve in the small airplane world, as well.  


Jump to comments
Presented by

Lane Wallace is a pilot and adventure writer. She is the author of Surviving Uncertainty: Taking a Hero's Journey.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Ghost Trains of America

Can a band of locomotive experts save vintage railcars from ruin?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In