Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Helicopter Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM)

According to data presented at the 2005 International Helicopter Safety Symposium, the helicopter accident rate is 30 percent higher than the general aviation (GA) accident rate. Reducing this rate is an industry wide goal and the CFI plays an important role in reaching it by stressing single-pilot resource management (SRM) and risk management during flight training.

As discussed in the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook and the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, SRM is the art and science of managing all resources (both onboard the aircraft and from outside sources) available to a single pilot (prior and during flight) to ensure the successful outcome of the flight. SRM grew out of the airline industry’s crew resource management (CRM) training for flight crews that was launched in an effort to reduce human factors-related aircraft accidents. SRM is the effective use of all available resources: human, hardware, and information to ensure a safe flight. The CFI must keep in mind that SRM is not a single task; it is a set of skill competencies that must be evident in all tasks. Aviation resource management charges the flight instructor with the responsibility of teaching the student a safety mindset that enhances his or her decision-making skills.

SRM depends upon teaching the student higher order thinking skills (HOTS) as discussed in Chapter 2 of the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook. HOTS are taught from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. To teach HOTS effectively involves strategies and methods that includ
  • Using problem-based learning (PBL) instruction,
  • Authentic problems,
  • Student-centered learning,
  • Active learning,
  • Cooperative learning, and
  • Customized instruction to meet the individual learner’s needs.
These strategies engage the student in some form of mental activity, have the student examine that mental activity and select the best solution, and challenge the student to explore other ways to accomplish the task or the problem.

Student understanding of risk management and judgment is enhanced when the instructor includes the student in all preflight practices and procedures, as the instructor shares the logic behind decisions whether to fly or not to fly. If the instructor uses the performance charts every time before flying to ensure sufficient power, control authority, and lift is available, then the student will probably acquire that habit. If the instructor always prompts the student to call for a weather, NOTAMS, and TFR briefing, then the student will learn proper preflight planning techniques. If the instructor determines what the student wants to be able to do with the helicopter, then the instructor can makes plans to ensure that the hazards inherent to those operations are covered completely and emphasized during training.

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