Personal Operating Procedures

The latest edition of the Aviation Safety Letter published by Transport Canada has an interesting article about something called Personal Operating Procedures.

Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs) are used extensively in the commercial aviation world. In a nutshell, these are the “rules” that are put in place by the airline or company you’re working for. These rules outline procedures to follow that go above and beyond manufacturer checklists and the CARs.

The article goes on to say how we can take the same principals for SOPs and apply them to general aviation. These Personal Operating Procedures (POPs) can be used to enhance the safety of your flight.

I think this is a great idea, and I’m going to come up with my own, which I will share with you in the upcoming weeks. Some of of the items in my POP will include:

  • Sterile Cockpit procedures. When and where will I request that all passengers keep the conversations to a minimum.
  • Weather Minima. When will I scrub a flight due to personal weather minima.
  • Weight and Balance. How will I calculate weight and balance and what margin of safety will I use in addition to the manufacturers.
  • Stable Approach criteria. When will I give up on an approach/landing and overshoot to try again.
  • Passenger Limitations. Who will I allow on my airplane. Age, weight restrictions, personal equipment brought on board.
  • Flight Maneuvers. What type of flight maneuvers will I perform with and without passengers.
  • Night Ops. Criteria around when I will consider my self night current. I feel that what the CARs cover is insufficient.
  • Multi-Engine Ops. My multi-engine rating is valid for life. Does that mean I can hop in a Seminole without flying a multi engined airplane in over 2 years?.
  • Lost Procedures. When do I bust out the GPS? When do I ask ATC for help? What do I do if I get lost?

Should be a fun document to put together. Please let me know if you guys have any other suggestions!

3 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    This is a great idea! Way too many pilots fall victim to ‘feeling’ their way through things, and your feelings might not be wrong, but they are very susceptible to outside pressures.
    This is one of the reasons I would hesitate to fly a high performance aircraft despite being licensed too (and having done so in the past). I feel that unless you have more than the 500 or so hours flying for a job that I do, you don’t have those SOP’s as second nature, and your likelihood of ending up in a bad situation is greatly increased!
    Depending on how good your radio work is, that could be an item to include. ATC are usually pretty uniform with the phraseology they use for a reason! (less so with VFR traffic… if you can pick out the IFR clearances in terminal airspace you will find them quite consistent) Think about the calls you make, and what information you need to convey, and how you can do that efficiently. Remember frequency management is huge in ATC, there is nothing worse that getting ready to give an intercept heading for an ILS approach, then blowing the a/c through the Loc because someone decided to choose that moment to tell you their life story 🙂 Sometimes low time pilots take cues from higher time pilots, and act casual on the frequency, however this becomes an issue, because those higher time pilots are able to pick up the cues that the controller is getting busy (despite as you saw, perhaps not sounding so on the freq) and adjust their actions accordingly, a low time pilot might be too busy with his workload, or just too inexperienced to see that! also remember a lot of those IFR pilots that are being so smooth on the freq aren’t actually flying an airplane at the time!

  2. Ramiel says:

    I agree, this is a great idea. I’ll definitely put together POPs for myself. Anyways, how’s the flying Blake?

  3. Blake says:

    Ramiel,
    Hey! Long time no see!
    The flying is going… slowly. I’ve been busy working on some spiffy new flight planning software. But I do plan on going for a flight in May to keep up my skills with an instructor.
    How’s your training going? Should be almost done?