Do You Like Your Checklist?
February 1, 2021
Is your checklist doing everything it should for you? If not, how can you make it better?
Checklists are wonderful things. They turn us from forgetful mortals to clear minded creatures that get every step in the operation of a complex machine exactly right.
Is your checklist up to date? Out of date would mean that it does not reflect the changes in transponder operations that have occured in the past five years. Does your checklist have you changing to ALT just before taking off? If so, bad checklist. The AIM calls for the transponder to be in ON/ALT anytime the airplane is not parked. Does your checklist have you checking the transponder for the proper aircraft ID? If so, good. Improper flight ID will have ADS-B showing that you are somebody you might not want to be.
Flying a Cessna 172P, or subsequent model? The checklist would encourage you to squirt four seconds worth of fuel on the ground, or the hangar floor, when checking the Fuel Strainer Drain. Bad move as that will create a fire hazard to get the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency enforcer. You might want to have your checklist remind you that catching and checking the fuel is best. Again, picking on the Cessna 172P and subsequent, did you know that there is a fuel drain associated with the Fuel Selector Valve? Yes! Unfortunatley, it is not mentioned in the C172P Pilot's Operating Handbook preflight section. Don't miss the chance to catch fuel contamination. Poke it with your fuel sampler and see what is really in there. This feature is located in the bottom of the fuselage about 5 inches back of where you checked the output of the Fuel Strainer Drain.
Feeling dissapointed in your checklist? Make it better. Write your own. Using your POH as a guide, start with a "clean sheet of paper" in your own word processor and make your checklist what you want it to be.
If the clean sheet of paper concept is intimidating, there are a couple of documents you can enjoy to get professional guidance in constructing your checklist. First would be a NASA report of checklist use and contruction. See https://ti. arc.nasa.gov/m/profile/adegani/Cockpit%20Checklist.pdf. Very recently the AOPA Pilot magazine had an excellent article on new checklist construction. Google "Efficiency: New Panel, New Checklist". Or, see page 93 in the December, 2020 issue.
With all that, hopefully you will feel well equipped to make your checklist all you want it to be.