Using checklist to organize yourself

If you have been in the cockpit of an airplane or if you have seen pictures of an airplane cockpit, you would have noticed a myriad of switches, buttons and dials to control the various systems and as an indication of systems status. The bigger the aircraft, the more complex is the system. These switches and buttons would have to be manipulated during each phase of the flight with different buttons or switches for different phases. Correct and timely switching of the switches and buttons is critical to the safety of the flight. Have you therefore wondered how could pilots possibly remember and not miss a single step of the procedure as dictated? The answer is the use of checklist.

The airplane checklist has long been regarded as a foundation of pilot standardization and safety. Studies have indicated that the non-use or the improper use of the checklist is one of the major contributing factors to aircraft incidents and accidents. Learning from the strict cockpit discipline and the effectiveness of the checklist, a lot of high-risk and critical industries such as medical care, space flight, maritime and power production have adopted the use of checklist as part of their procedures. The following are reasons why checklists are widely used in the above industries including aviation:

  • Offers standardization. With the use of checklists there is no ambiguity with the various procedures. Everyone knows exactly what to expect and what to do during all phases of flight.
  • Provides added safety. During a non-normal situation the checklist allows one pilot to manipulate the various switches and buttons on his own without much supervision and frees the other pilot to concentrate on flying the airplane.
  • Reduces workload. Checklist reduces pilots’ workload since they do not have to memorise some of the procedures as these procedures are referenced to the checklists.
  • Aligns expectations. All modern airplanes are manned by two pilots. Most airlines would have a few hundred pilots flying the same aircraft type. Checklist allows pilots to fly with any of them as whomever that they fly with, will know what to expect.
  • Manages workload better. Pilots have to carry out certain procedures during different phases of the flight. By using checklist, their workload would be evenly distributed. One pilot can concentrate in flying the plane while the other pilot can carry out other required tasks.

Learning from the pilots we can use checklists in many of our daily activities. As an example we can create a checklist to plan and arrange our activities for the day. By doing so we will be able to plan our life better, reduces our workload and helps us to distribute our workload better. It ensures that we do not miss anything of importance.

Written by Azharuddin Osman

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