Dealing with inflight stress

There are many situations where you will encounter inflight stress; in fact not all of them are bad. A certain level of stress will help you perform better – you know this from your experiences learning to land!

Aviation has a tried and tested method for dealing with inflight stress:

Aviate – Navigate – Communicate

At its core this is task prioritisation, designed to keep your stress level from distracting you from the most important tasks at hand.

Task Management

During stressful portions of your flight you will need to prioritise your workload, and Aviate–Navigate–Communicate, is your simplest and most effective tool.

There’s also a straightforward, sure-fire way to improve your task management capability – the more preflight planning you do, the easier task management will become.

Forward planning is essential; it gives you more room to think when the unexpected occurs.

Before your flight, assess more than just your routing, fuel, and the weather:

  • Ask yourself, "How am I going to ensure the flight will be successful?"
  • Work out where the major ‘pressure points’ in workload will be.
  • Visualise your actions – armchair fly the flight.
  • Consider what threats you may encounter, and how you could respond to them.
  • Know the tasks required for each phase of flight.
  • Study the aerodrome chart before you get airborne and brief yourself well ahead of time.
  • Obtain all the NOTAMS and AIP Supplements – they are critical in ensuring a safe flight.

Organise your equipment and tidy the cockpit.

Tim Maynard talks about pilot anxiety