Flip The Weather Script

Flip The Weather Script

  • November
  • 08
  • 2022
  • Advanced Aircrew Academy

On September 1st, two twin-engine planes, including a Cessna and Diamond DA-42, were flipped due to severe weather, with one fatality and another badly injured passenger. While authorities are still investigating the incident and some pilots are also trying to make sense of the tragedy, it gives us pause to think. It's too early to assign blame, or even assume there is any, and it wouldn't be fair to start a debate regarding the crew's experience or decisions that unfolded. What we can discuss is the fact that weather remains one of the primary contributing factors to accidents and incidents and it doesn't only affect aircraft in the sky.

To your average person, weather reports are simply to provide an overarching guide of what to expect for an outing or event. For sports, picnics, parties, or construction companies, weather can be a limiting inconvenience, but rarely deadly. For aviation, however, weather monitoring requires a much deeper attention than reviewing a simple ten day forecast of cartoon suns and clouds.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a General Aviation Pilot's Guide to Preflight Weather Planning, Weather Self-Briefings, and Weather Decision Making. This 37-page document contains a considerable amount of information and tools to ensure pilots make the most educated, safest prediction of weather conditions and the consequences that may follow for different airframes. It presents steps in easy-to-follow bites by separating them into three main obligations of pilots to "perceive, process, and perform" when it comes to weather and aviation operations.

Perceive is the ability of the flight crews to accurately find the existing hazards for flight, which means knowing where to look and what the difference is between various reporting tools. Which one is best for your purposes at this time, or should you use a heavy combination of many different tools? Process is how aircrews interpret and utilize the data. Most importantly, do we understand how each weather forecast will affect our unique airframe and flight plan? One size doesn't fit all when it comes to weather forecasts. Perform discusses what is ultimately done to mitigate disaster. We should ask ourselves if we are fairly deciding when it is too risky to attempt flight, even if it means missing schedules or disappointing passengers, no matter how important their travel may be. The importance of safety always trumps the importance of any flight plan.

While there is a plethora of data available in terms of briefings, worksheets, checklists, or forecasts, it ultimately comes down to the aircrew's ability to collect and synthesize the data into a clear, usable picture from which to make decisions. Weather is a complicated factor and one that can make dangerous turns very quickly and unexpectedly, as seen in the latest Florida accident.

It is also important to remember that the dangers of air travel exist from the moment we file a flight plan until we close it out and tuck ourselves into bed at our destinations. Each action we take can have cascading effects, and weather monitoring is but one part that can make a great plan end tragically.

Be cognizant to conduct deliberate planning and remember that often, when it comes to weather, if there is doubt, there is no doubt. Fly safe.