Step in, step out, step up

Stepping In

Sometimes you might see someone who is about to go flying, and you can clearly tell they are not fit to fly.

It would be easy if it was as simple as taking the keys off a drink driver. We could all do that, thanks to our changing society, and some great advertising by transport agencies (Legend!). But it’s not always as clear-cut as that, is it?

Having completed the course, you should now be able to spot some signs of impairment in others, and it may not be just one thing that alerts you to their state, but it is important to be able to step up and have the conversation.

There is no easy way to have that conversation, but here are some tips to help you frame what you might say.

  1. Try to imagine what it will sound like to the other person. If you are someone they respect and look up to, then the conversation will probably go well. If you are not, you will need to approach it differently. So try to imagine how it will sound to them. Would you like it if someone said the same thing to you?

    Most people will get defensive if you say to them outright that you believe their decision is the wrong one.
  1. Don’t try to control their reaction, just prepare yourself for their likely response. You should have a good feel for their response, because it’s unlikely you will be saying this to someone you don’t know.
  2. Try to learn their story, or their point of view. What is driving them to make this particular decision? It could be they are under a lot of pressure to make the flight, whether that is perceived pressure or real pressure it doesn’t matter, it will still be influencing their decision.
  3. Express your view, while thinking like a mediator. For example, “Are you OK Bill? You seem a bit stressed today.  I know when I have flown that stressed it has never gone well. Do you have time to sit down and go over things? Is there something we can do to help?”
  4. And if you really need to cut through to them, you could always use the phrase first officers are taught to get the captain’s attention, “(Captain), I really need you to listen to me”. It works surprisingly well.

Stepping Out

As we have already said, we are notoriously bad at recognising our own diminished performance.

Just as it’s hard to bring up someone’s fitness to fly with them, it’s as hard to hear it from someone else.

If someone approaches you trying to have that conversation, take a deep breath.

  1. Remember they have probably spent time screwing up the courage to talk to you about this. Try to imagine it from their perspective.
  2. Try to be open to what they are saying. Listen to what they are saying before you justify yourself loudly or brush them off. Take some more deep breaths and try to step out for a moment.
  3. This conversation is coming from a place of concern. They are clearly worried about you, and that means they take your safety seriously – just as seriously as you should.

You can always use our smartphone app – Graph my Flight – to help you with your self-evaluation. You can find it here

Stepping Up

We all want to be part of a safety culture that keeps aviation safety as a high priority and stops people from harming themselves and others.

In order for our perceptions to shift, and the norms to be moved, we need society to change. A particularly good way to achieve this is for our role models to step up and model the behaviour we expect from everyone.

There is no reason you cannot be one of those role models – we are all role models to someone.