Improve Airmanship Through Heightened Situational Awareness

There are three questions pilots should never stop asking themselves to improve airmanship through heightened situational awareness.

Pilots are often told how good situational awareness (SA) is an attribute of being a good pilot. It’s true!  But what does it mean to be “situationally aware” and what does it take to maintain this awareness?  Here’s one way to learn more about yourself and how to achieve heightened awareness.

Situational awareness is the active process of interpreting what’s happening around you (the pilot), and your bubble (the airplane and the flight environment). As pilots, we should continually strive to understand where we are, what we’re doing, and our next intended action. But we often get busy and forgot to ask ourselves those questions proactively.  By creating a mantra of those three questions, we can build and maintain a clear picture of where we are, what’s happening around us., and where the plane is headed. By consciously reciting this mantra, we remain actively engaged in our flight environment and create situational awareness. 

Where am I? – What am I doing? – What’s next? Once this mantra becomes woven into your thinking, you’ll notice how your workload lessens and attention to other details improves – like earlier recognition of aircraft around you, better cockpit organization, and incorporating more technology in the plane and our EFBs. This ultimately leads to better aeronautical decision making. So, here’s the challenge: On your next flight start incorporating these three questions into your thinking.  See how long you can keep repeating the mantra throughout the flight or if distractions consume your attention. You’ll learn first-hand how you process distractions and get to practice a new discipline that will improve your overall airmanship and become a safer, more confident pilot.

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