How pilots learn from their experience
Each day when we go through life we will encounter events. Some of them could be new to us whereas some others could be the same events that we routinely faced before. These events could be problems, hardships or pleasant encounters. At the end of the day we go back to our home, take our well deserved rest and wake up the next morning to face another day. We will do this day in and day out, years after years going through life’s experiences. But, do we learn anything from these experiences? And how many of us will take the trouble to reflect on the day’s experiences that we went through and make an attempt to learn something from them? If only we were to discipline ourselves and learn from all of our experiences we will definitely develop to be a better person than what we are now.
The following is my four step process that I use to learn from my experience in flying that we can also use to learn from our daily life experiences:
Step 1 – The Experience
At the end of each flight I make it a point to mentally replay the flight, from take-off to landing, taking note of areas or sections of the flight that I did well and those that I was not happy with. After that I will pick and choose a particular area that I feel I could have done better and this will be the experience that I will use for the learning process. This step is merely to identify and prioritise which of the many experiences that I will use.
As an example on a particular flight from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow, I am not happy with the “descent” phase of the flight, resulting in being high on my descent profile, resulting in a rushed approach and I feel that I could have done it better. I will then use this phase of the flight and proceed to the next step.
Step 2 – Review
This step involves data collection. What I will do is to replay that particular phase of the flight in greater detail and collect as much information as possible such as the descent speed, the weather, the distance from the airport when the descent was initiated, the workload during this period, the number of aircrafts in the vicinity, any distraction from the cabin crew, the air traffic control and any relevant information that I could use for the next step.
Step 3 – Concluding
Based on the information gathered from step 2 and my previous experience, I could then conclude why I ended up high on the descent profile – the cause or causes.
Step 4 – Planning for next step
This last step is merely to come up with action plans, that is, the steps that I would use to ensure I will not end up in the same situation on my next flight to the same destination.
I have been using the above process and have been encouraged with the result. I am also using it during my training flights to help my trainees learn from their flying experience to further improve themselves.
Written by Azharuddin Osman