So, moving right along. How do we address ambiguity in our assessment of what is/is not "safe"?? Can we adhere to our safety principles and live our values if we have ambiguity? How much ambiguity?
For example, let's look at the aviation ORM worksheet found in Tab 10 of the AIF for every Corporate Aircraft. https://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/14_AIF_ORM_7476A83AE6A1D.pdf
is a pseudo objective risk assessment tool. Instructions for this form are not particularly useful: https://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/13_AIF_ORM_INST_647D4060B6335.pdf
Take a look at the first block on the ORM form: "HUMAN
The first two rows (Experience/Training, and Pilot Currency) are nice and quantitative. You are, or you aren't within these boxes. Great! Easy to do. Just check your log book and away we go!
What about the 3rd row. This one is arguably at least as important as the first two rows because it addresses both health and fatigue factors, i.e. fitness for flight. Problems with either can result in incapacitation, cognitive deficiencies, or both.
We have three columns.
Column 1: "Good Health and Proper Crew Rest
" (for zero points);
Column 2: "Fair Health with Adequate Crew Rest
" (for 10 points); and
Column 3: "Poor Health or Signs of Fatigue
" (NO GO).
If we have a 'value' that says we choose the most conservative assessment how do we differentiate between a slight headache with great rest, a "mild" yet uncomfortable headache with great rest, and a less-than-migraine but still very uncomfortable headache with great rest? Are all three in column 2? Where does potential progression due to rapid changes in altitude, piloting (which can be fatiguing in itself!), etc. come into play? Is a "less-than-migraine" headache a show stopper? Where does a cold fall into this exercise in ambiguity? How about a "mild" case of the flu? Unanswered is this: How "poor" must health be, how tired must the pilot be to score a "No Go" and cancel a flight?
Now look at the second block on the form: MACHINE
Again, most of the rows are nice and quantitative. But what about Row 1, Maintenance Factors? As written the second of these three columns could be used to excuse flying the aircraft with equipment that would violate the TCDS, and arguably the FAR requirement that the aircraft be "Safe to fly". In fact, I'm aware of a few instances when this was the case.
Column 1 is pretty clear: Equipment is "Fully Functional
" (zero points). Presumably this means ALL installed equipment is working. Meets FARs, Safe to fly. Slam dunk.
Column 2 is ambiguous. Equipment is "Partially non-Functional
" (15 points). WHICH equipment is partially non-functional? Flaps? Auto-pilot? Turn Coordinator? Seat stops? Rear seat intercom? Does this mean we're into FAR 91.213 with placards, deactivation, removal, etc? How often do we see THAT?
Column 3 is equally ambiguous. What equipment can be "Fully non-Functional
" (No Go)? TCDS looms large here. I've seen aircraft fly with non-op CHT (required for engines with cowl flaps) and malfunctioning (still operating) auto pilots. For some reason, "don't ask, don't tell" is still alive and well in some quarters - at least with maintenance.
Want to bet quite a few CAP pilots don't really know how to assess equipment maintenance status? Or determine when an aircraft is both airworthy and 'safe to fly'?
How do we educate pilots to understand and consistently respond to these ambiguities? Could CAP create a relatively simple framework that corrals this kind of ambiguity (it exists elsewhere, these are just a few glaring examples)? Pickin' up on Eclipses' observations, with the size of our paid staff, and the limited resource called "volunteers" do safety 'values' run into the logistic reality of our organizational capability?