Monday, April 7, 2008


Effective workload management ensures that essential operations are accomplished by planning, prioritizing, and sequencing tasks to avoid work overload. As experience is gained, a pilot learns to recognize future workload requirements and can prepare for high workload periods during times of low workload. Reviewing the appropriate chart and setting radio frequencies well in advance of when they are needed helps reduce workload as the flight nears the airport. In addition, a pilot should listen to ATIS, ASOS, or AWOS, if available, and then monitor the tower frequency or CTAF to get a good idea of what traffic conditions to expect. Checklists should be performed well in advance so there is time to focus on traffic and ATC instructions. These procedures are especially important prior to entering a high-density traffic area, such as Class B airspace.

To manage workload, items should be prioritized. During any situation, and especially in an emergency, remember the phrase "aviate, navigate, and communicate." This means that the first thing the pilot should do is to make sure the airplane is under control. Then begin flying to an acceptable landing area. Only after the first two items are assured should the pilot try to communicate with anyone.

Another important part of managing workload is recognizing a work overload situation. The first effect of high workload is that the pilot begins to work faster. As workload increases, attention cannot be devoted to several tasks at one time, and the pilot may begin to focus on one item. When a pilot becomes task saturated, there is no awareness of inputs from various sources, so decisions may be made on incomplete information, and the possibility of error increases.

When becoming overloaded, stop, think, slow down, and prioritize. It is important to understand options that may be available to decrease workload. For example, tasks such as locating an item on a chart or setting a radio frequency may be delegated to another pilot or passenger; an autopilot, if available, may be used; or ATC may be enlisted to provide assistance.

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