Checklist Discipline (updated)

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tattered checklist

photo courtesy of Dan O’Leary

Checklist Discipline 

(Update) Fellow pilot and friend Mike Wojcik contributed to this piece. See his work below regarding a checklist he developed for the Tecnam.

Ever thought about your checklist? I mean really thought about it? It is much more than a faded and tattered occupier of precious cockpit real estate. It is one of your key weapons on the war against pilot error.

Every time you reach for that checklist you are potentially trapping errors. Conversely not being disciplined in how you use the checklist can negate all those benefits.


Conventions for good checklist usage:

  • Don’t rush the checklist
  • Read and then Do
  • If interrupted start over
  • If skipping critical items, use a memory jogger

Many folks will modify the manufacturer’s version to better suit their needs.

Checklist in use

photo courtesy of Mary Hodder

You should use caution if planning to rewrite a checklist, but if done correctly it can make it more usable and error-resistant.





(update) My friend Mike Wojcik flies a variety of airplanes, but one of his recent steeds has been the Tecnam P92. He created his own checklist that is serial number specific to the airplane he flies. It incorporates elements of the ‘flow’ human factors  concept as well as readability and one piece convenience (printed on a single two-sided laminated card). He also placed important general and aircraft specific safety information on there as well. This represents what can be done when you take the time to do a well thought out rewrite of your aircraft’s checklist.

Tecnam P92 checklistTecnam P92 Checklist page 2

I am a big fan of electronic checklist. They are not foolproof, but they do offer functionality and flexibility that you just can’t do with paper. Not to mention it doesn’t take up space if it’s a feature of your avionics.

Take the time to review your abnormal or emergency checklist. Being in the middle of an in-flight problem is the wrong time to be reading these little-used sections for the first time.

There is another reason to do this; some checklists are chocked full of notes and fine print, again not easily deciphered in the heat of battle.

Surprisingly there is scarcely little training on the subject. You obviously use the checklist during training, but there’s not much conversation on the nuances of it.

There is more I could expound on the subject, but I’ll refrain from belaboring the point. Good checklist discipline is a cheap and easy way to make us safer.


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