AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 93

P&E

EFFICIENCY

New panel, new
checklist
I've seen my share of checklist missteps
B Y C AT H E R I N E C AVAG N A R O

WITH HER OLD AVIONICS, some even inoperative, it was time to bring my 1968 Bonanza
Niky into the twenty-first century. Her panel
makeover turned out to be a total gut job save
for the analog accelerometer and an antique
Mathey-Tissot wind-up clock that I deemed
quaint. Her new panel features all glass with
added redundancy to provide increased
safety during our family adventures around
the country. When I picked her up from the
avionics shop, I pulled her worn checklist
from the side pocket and noted that many
items no longer apply, and some were missing. I made my way home but resolved to
secure an appropriate checklist.
In a 2017 Safety Alert for Operators
(SAFO), the FAA warns of the dangers in
using purchased or personally developed
checklists. The alert cites an accident in
which the pilot referenced a purchased
checklist to manually extend the gear,
which subsequently collapsed on landing.
The investigators found the procedure did
not match that in the operating manual and
cited the pilot's use of the erroneous checklist as a significant contributing factor.

As an FAA examiner, I've seen my share
of checklist missteps. On a recent exam the
candidate consulted his checklist from a
third party and reported a value for maneuvering speed that was much higher than
the number in the aircraft operating handbook. The SAFO advises anyone who uses
such a checklist to "meticulously compare
them with the manufacturer's checklist
and placards" to confirm consistency. I suspect that many don't actually perform such
a verification.
Where does one find a checklist for an
aircraft like Niky? The original operating
handbook checklist lacks procedures for
any of the modifications she has had over
her 52 years. Well-meaning friends offered
me their checklists for similar models, but
the attendant pitfalls are the same as those
of a purchased checklist. Thus, I decided to
research the best practices for generating a
safe and effective checklist.
Human factors experts Asaf Degani
and Earl Wiener conducted a field study
in which they observed airline crews as
they used checklists on commercial flights.

In their 1993 paper Cockpit Checklists:
Concepts, Design and Use, they discuss the
purpose of checklists and offer advice for
their optimal design and use. The authors
note that an effective checklist is the result
of a balancing act that ensures inclusion of
all critical items, yet the product is not so
lengthy that it promotes poor usage. While
their study centered on transport category
operations, their recommendations apply
to general aviation just as well.
Degani and Wiener present two dominant methods of running a checklist. The
call-do-response method is a cookbook
approach in which the pilot completes each
item before moving to the next line. But a
skipped item can easily pass unnoticed
using this method. The challenge-verification-response method starts with the pilot
completing a task flow from memory and
uses the checklist as a backup to ensure all
items were completed. Many commercial
operators use this latter method.
Using advice from the Degani-Wiener
paper (see "Advice for Checklist Design and
Usage," p. 94), I designed a checklist that is
faithful to Niky's operating handbook and
incorporates procedures for her newer features. Whenever possible, a task checklist
is designed to be completed using the challenge-verification-response method.
Checklist items. I started with
the checklist from Niky's 1968 Pilot's
Operating Handbook and Airplane Flight
Manual and crossed out any items that
no longer applied. For example, her pressure system is gone so I eliminated the
associated references. I added checklist
items from the documentation for her
new equipment like the standby alternator and avionics package. I replaced most
response items such as Set and Check
with the desired status.
Order. The most time-consuming
part of the process involved deciding on
an order for checklist items. For example,
before her panel upgrade, I could start
Niky's engine as soon as I turned on the
master switch but now I can't reference
her engine gauges until the primary flight
display boots up. I also switch fuel tanks
to verify proper fuel flow from both tanks,
but that item should be done well before
the takeoff roll, so I placed it soon after
aopa.org/pilot AOPA PILOT | 93


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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 3
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