Premium on Safety - Issue 44, 2022 - 1

Safety Spotlight: Circling Approach Considerations
Safety Quiz: Do You Know Your VDPs?
Best Practices: Technology Is " Available Safety "
ASI Message: Density Altitude-A Stealthy Killer
Lessons Learned: Missing Pieces
Polaris Aero VOCUSĀ® Aviation Risk Analysis and Safety Management
Services Now Available Through Performance Vector
Risk Is More Than a Number
Will you be having low, medium or high?
Sorting results into three buckets is a popular approach to
fashioning something simple and actionable from flight risk
assessments. Categorizing a flight as low, medium or high risk
guides the amount of supervisory oversight that must be added
into the decision process. Low risk: the flight crew self-manages.
High risk: fold in some extra experienced brains to evaluate the
situation and boost decisional rigor. It works well if all participants
understand and invest genuine effort. The part after the 'if' in the
last sentence is more involved than it sounds.
It helps if risk has a more 'human' meaning than just being
a number. Is an approach to minimums in crosswinds a knot
or two below operational limits high risk? People will answer
differently based on the context and their own internal risk meter.
Calibration among those who work together in your operational
risk management process is key. Has your whole team discussed
what the differences (beyond numerical) really mean between low,
medium and high risk? Putting in that effort extends the utility
of the three-tier model from just a supervisory trigger to a more
useful culture-building tool.
Here's one framework to articulate three risk levels. You could
adapt and adjust it as guided by discussions within your team:
* Low Risk: The prevailing threats to safety and success are
low enough to afford a wide margin in which the degree of
minor human or equipment deficiencies and unanticipated
change stressors experienced in normal operations should be
absorbed by normal procedures and redundancies without
affecting safety or a successful outcome.
* Medium Risk: This zone starts when any single factor is
expected to need perfect performance to avoid negatively
affecting the operation's safety or outcome and extends
to the point where the balance of factors (human and
equipment) all require essentially flawless performance to
safely succeed. A safe and successful outcome is achievable
at the top of the medium risk zone by perfectly executed
procedures and to-spec equipment performance, but the
margin for error has effectively shrunk to zero.
* High Risk: Operation beyond the safety margin, characterized
most prominently by needing good fortune or other
external contributions outside the operation's influence
to autonomously intervene to avoid a negative outcome.
Essentially, achieving a safe outcome requires luck or help
from an unanticipated source.
Going through a consensus process to define and calibrate risk
levels can positively impact safety culture in several ways. You can
use it to examine numerical risk assessment tool results to see if
they are sorting operations consistently in step with the definitions.
If not, it's time to adjust the tool! It will also help install a common
vernacular. " High risk " as defined above is a zone in which most
operators (perhaps excepting those in national security or rescue
roles) should not rationally ever anticipate operating. Having the
same definition understood by everyone helps solidify a term like
" high risk " as the decisional crossover point intended, rather than a
fuzzy, conceptual phrase that can get diluted from misuse.
Finally, defined risk levels aid crew coordination directly,
functioning to cross-check the alignment in risk perceptions
among crew members. While briefing an approach, a pilot in an
organization using the example definitions can say " arrival weather
is worse than planned so our risk has shifted from low to medium. "
That puts all on alert that razor focus on error-free performance
is now needed. The definitive phrase " I'm uncomfortable with
this " has proven valuable over the years at breaking through crew
coordination barriers and forcing rapid alignment. Having mutually
calibrated risk levels opens additional compact yet effective
crew resource management possibilities. For a flight crew using
the example levels, stating " if we proceed, we're crossing from
medium into high risk " immediately compels resolution on whether
Continued on Next Page

Premium on Safety - Issue 44, 2022

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