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Do you think Indian ATC is doing enough to reduce RT congestion in the skies ?
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, KEEPS YOU SAFE – Twenty Third Issue, January 2011

1. If you knew that today was an accident day and had an instinct of an accident, you probably wouldn't bother to leave the bed. Since this is never the case and a lapse in awareness can be deadly, situational awareness (SA) is your best defense against unforeseen accidents.
Feng Shui Horoscope
Suhas Gopinath
Situational Awareness

2. From the very first flight lesson, navigation is taught as a bible to the pilots. Communication, sightseeing and all other tasks involved in flight are taught later. Keeping awareness of your current situation and anticipating what will or could happen in the near future is a time consuming task but critical to your survival. Monitoring is critical to your survival and focus in an area where it is exceptionally easy to become distracted by a single input and lose awareness of your surroundings. Unfortunately, humans have limits to how much we can see and hear at the same time. If we had to put our monitoring goal into one rule, it would be: Be aware of what you need to and ignore everything else. That's very easy to say and probably impossible to do. While it may sometime become necessary to tune out distractions and devote your attention to a single event, you must never concentrate solely on one thing and ignore everything else for long.

  • Focus on a broad region -- keep the big picture
  • Focus on a narrow region -- pay attention to detail
  • Focus on the right information -- don't get sidetracked or distracted

3. Once you are properly focused you must properly evaluate what your senses are telling you. Comprehension is a key to evaluation, once you interpret and comprehend what is happening you must assess the importance of all inputs and prioritize them accordingly. Once you accomplish this you now are aware of your current situation. Anticipation is a key to maintaining situational awareness for future projection. You must use all information available and project multiple eventualities to prepare for any event that may occur in the future. Normally this is a fairly simple predictable process and is a lifesaver in tasking situations. You must consider future contingencies as well and these may save your life. Events such as emergencies, equipment failures, and unplanned maneuvers by other aircraft are examples of useful projections.

4. Thinking through the 'what', 'where', 'when', and 'who' of a potential unexpected occurrence maybe just enough prior planning to make the difference between success and failure. Finally have a plan. All of the SA and future projections in the world are useless unless you consider alternatives in anticipation and mentally implement them to judge their effectiveness. No matter how much you focus, evaluate and plan many other variable will compete for your attention.

5. Here are some traps that may try to steal your SA and ways to avoid them. Focus on the right Information at the right time. A lapse in judgment can occur at any time to anyone. Keep your priorities straight. If flying, watch your altimeter, if on ground pay, pay attention to street signs and right of way indicators. If something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. The human senses though limited, present you with enormous amounts of information. After thorough observation and planning you may think everything is going well but can't shake the nagging feeling something is out of place, listen! It may mean the difference between life and death. Missing an approach or being late for dinner is a small price to pay for ensuring you and passengers eventually arrive safely at the intended destination. Be wary of both task saturation and boredom. Studies show that boredom is at least as likely to cause lapses in judgment as task saturation if not more so. Human nature is such that unchallenging situations quickly invoke boredom and a loss of focus, don’t forget and be vigilant by senses.
Commandant Hemant Kumar Ahuja