Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Pilot Decides
Controllers offer assistance, but it’s the pilot’s responsibility to manage the flight
NAVIGATING THE BUSY SKIES: Air traffic controllers can provide invaluable guidance as aviators fly through weather and traffic, but pilots need to recognize their own responsibility with regards to continuing a flight. (Photo by John Ruley)
This year, NATCA honored 16 controllers for their involvement in 11 flight assists in 2008. One controller helped a pilot with an onboard fire return to the departure airport; another enabled the pilot of a single-engine airplane to find a place to land after the engine failed during a night flight.
It’s nice to honor those who’ve successfully helped others, especially when we can learn from their experiences. A controller can be thought of as an additional crewmember, for purposes of applying crew resource management techniques, especially when the workload increases on a single-pilot flight. No matter how helpful a controller may try to be, however, it’s the pilot who’s ultimately responsible for exercising the proper judgment, having the necessary skills and maintaining command of the flight. Part of that pilot-in-command responsibility includes understanding the source and completeness of the information the controller is using to formulate the advice and instructions he or she is providing.
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Labels: Columns, FAA Regulations, Features, Flight Hazards, In-Flight Emergencies, Safety, Weather Flying, Weather Skills, Winter Weather, Pilot Talk