Episode 27: When Pilots Break the Rules | AIN's Tales from the Flight Deck Podcast

November 20, 2019, 10:10 AM

It's an all-too-human tendency, borne from our natural desire to find quicker solutions not only on the flight deck but also in our daily lives. It's also something all pilots are likely guilty of, especially if you have thousands of hours as pilot-in-command. Today we explore why pilots choose to break the rules and what can be done to overcome the natural desire to look for shortcuts, even when we fly.


  • Michael Ott, director of government contracting and an international captain for Phoenix Air Group
  • Charlie Precourt, NASA astronaut, former F-15 test pilot, and instructor chairman of the Citation Jet Pilots Association's Safety Committee
  • Rickey Smith, chief pilot at Phoenix Air Group
  • Tom Turner, CFII and executive director for the American Bonanza Society's Air Safety Foundation


I highly disagree with many of these comments on this "Podcast". Obviously, this is either a "Civilian Centric" problem or many of these fools should have never been given a "Private" License let alone any Advanced Licenses!

No matter how factually accurate "failure to follow" procedures (F2FP) may be, it's not helpful, for many reasons. Among those reasons: F2FP is a "shame and blame" assessment; F2FP is vague and non-specific; F2FP assumes that the procedures are good. (For example, many checklists are FAA-approved but are in fact terrible in their organization and cockpit flows. Some checklists are even nested, with, say, step 5 of Checklist A being to go execute Checklist B on another page, then come back to checklist A). In a structured flight environment with accountability (military / airlines), procedures can be enforced, but in GA, procedures must appeal to the values and operational style of the individual pilot if they are to be followed. For example, a CYA checklist with everything on it including the kitchen sink is unlikely to be followed all the time. Lastly, too often safety messages reflect the psychological needs of the safety advocate. F2FP is likely to reflect a need for certainty or a need for control, and those may not appeal to each individual pilot. Safety messages that do not treat the pilot as a customer and appeal to the pilots’ desires and styles will not help, and may turn off pilots to all safety messages.