Over the last few weeks, following an intensive retraining package, I have been slowly returning to the skies and have done my first few flights since August 2020. The aeroplane is the same, our procedures are the same, the destinations are even the same, but it feels very different.
I'm flying from a new base, which means new colleagues every single day. There are instant challenges when building a team of up to 8 total strangers; language barriers to overcome, slightly different ways of applying procedures and new working relationships. It's been a difficult year for us all, so as leaders it's good to try and get any concerns anyone has out in the open early on and settle everyone back in as quickly and as safely as possible.
It is said that re-applying taught skills is like riding a bike. But riding a bike is easy if you've done it yesterday. If you've not ridden that bike for a year it takes a bit of getting used to. You'll be concentrating very hard at first. You won't take in as much of your surrounding environment. Returning to flying is similar and it would be very naive of us to think otherwise. We're well aware of the threat of complacency in a safety critical environment such as the one we operate in.
Flying took far more of my mental capacity than I thought it would, once I finally found myself back in the hot seat. I had to work far harder to absorb everything that was going on around us, building my situational awareness in order to maintain an accurate mental model and communicate that with my colleague on the flight deck. In turn I had to concentrate hard on managing our cognitive workload as a team, in order to keep 'ahead of the aircraft' and prioritise tasks effectively, allowing myself longer than normal to complete what used to be basic everyday tasks. Fortunately for us, our industry has highly robust, proven training methods providing us with a structure of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), skills, knowledge, tools and techniques to overcome challenges that arise not only on a daily basis, but also after a period of absence and in times of crisis.
Do you want to take control of the challenges you face? Do you want to become safer, more efficient and ultimately gain that all important performance margin by investing in Human Factors training? To gain an understanding of just how important the non-technical skills we refer to as Human Factors are to your industry, and to understand how as pilots we effectively manage our Cognitive Workload, build Situational Awareness and quickly build safe and effective teams, get in touch with Think Like A Pilot today.
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