April 1, 2019
The Insidious Creep of Hazardous Attitudes.
We all tested on the FAA’s top 5 Hazardous Attitudes and learned their antidotes. For review, let’s examine them again just to refresh:
Anti-Authority – A purposeful disregard for rules, regulations, or common courtesy
Antidote: Follow the rules; they are usually right
Impulsivity – Something, anything, must be done right now right or wrong
Antidote: Not so fast, think first
Macho – Taking undue risk and being a “show off”
Antidote: Taking chances is foolish
Invulnerability – Accidents only happen to other people
Antidote: It could happen to me
Resignation – This is out of my hands. I am helpless or it’s someone else’s fault
Antidote: I am not helpless; I can make a difference
These attitudes and others are easily spotted during a demonstration of them, but seldom appear so blatantly in real life to be recognized in our fellow pilots or, more dangerously, in ourselves. As we gain experience and knowledge, our confidence in skills and machines rise. This added confidence opens the door to thought patterns that, if unchecked, can appear at the worst possible time. Anti-Authority and Macho attitudes are the least common hazardous attitudes according to a recent study. Impulsivity and Invulnerability being the most common. Resignation, in my view, is the single most dangerous. Pilots who succumb to this attitude are generally not around to be interviewed. I’ll quote my earliest aviation mentor, Roger Brogren, as saying, “Hope is the last thing to die.”
Unsafe attitudes are rarely a 100% personality trait. Instead, they surface on occasion, then remit, and surface again. As with most poor habits, once the human mind makes an “exception” to a rule, it does so a second time with less resistance, then again until it is considered an acceptable behavior. This can be the case in CRM environments, but most dangerous in single pilot operations.
A large factor in higher stress situations is the need to “save face.” Nobody likes to admit a failure, and have to explain to friends and colleagues a short coming in skills or decision making. I believe that the majority of these tendencies can and should be self-checked during an honest IMSAFE assessment. It doesn’t have to be formal, and certainly can be done on the drive to the airport. Giving thought to your own feelings of stress or mission importance in contrast to the existing conditions can provide just the right amount of “pause” to correct a behavior that is unsafe as the flight unfolds.
Only you know the capabilities of your aircraft and skills. It is only you that can protect them and those in your airspace from the insidious creep of a hazardous attitude.