You might not be too surprised to hear that aviation is indeed quite a risk-heavy business. All the way from amateur aviators to professional pilots, everyone who gets off the ground takes on risk, and it’s up to them how they deal with it. It is also good to get the basics in order as in aviation risk you have to distinguish hazards from the risks involved. To use an analogy, when flying past a mountain it is the mountain which is the hazard. The risk involved is the possibility of crashing or any other unwelcome outcome.
Common risks for enthusiasts
The risks involved with trainee aviators stem primarily from the aircraft they use and their lack of experience in the cockpit. Flight schools are particularly affected, as the balance has to be struck between letting novice pilots develop their skills and making sure they don’t have the chance to make an error. Not every flight school can afford the custom aircraft that minimise this risk for them. The same goes for other types of aviators, as those learning will need to get hands on with their training while keeping their risk minimal. This includes parachutists, gliders and skydivers, all of whom have their ways of minimising risks. In these fields, the principal strategy for minimising and reducing risk is to invest in the skills and training of instructors. Instructors can be key in making sure trainees are aware of their surroundings and what to do when things go awry. Especially in the situations where trainees and instructors fly attached to each other, instructors must be prepared to take control and take actions to avoid hazards and minimise risk.
Professional aviation risk
The risks that professional aviators come across will of course have some similarities, but it's the very important distinctions that mark them out. Whatever their role in the industry, aviation is their full-time role, they might have a family depending on them coming home from work every day, the potential consequences of any accident are enormous. Professional aviators know that their workplace might be considered a little riskier than an office desk, but we can still do all we can to reduce that risk. Safety equipment and education is the way to go, as even quite simple investments into upgrading safety kit can have quite a large impact on overall risk. Professionals must also be consistently educated on safety and the particular safety details of their equipment. This goes double when these professionals will be flying with non-aviators as the skills of the professionals have to cover those around them. A professional has to be able to stay calm and in control of the situation even as others might start to panic, and that can only come with education and practice.
How to reduce the risk?
Across all the sections of the aviation industry, there are two constants in the effort, education and proper safety equipment. These two key aspects of safety can be applied across the sector to reduce risk. Every business should be investing in the education of their professionals as the first step in any risk reduction strategy. The safety equipment should also go hand-in-hand with the appropriate education. There’s no point spending money on fancy equipment if no-one knows how to use it. As with every business trying their best to work through the Coronavirus pandemic, hygiene and sanitation has to be very high on the list. This is particularly important in situations where professionals and clients will be in close proximity, and all parties should be aware of the health risks and the controls in place to minimise the risk.
At the end of the day, aviation is an industry where risk is just part of the bread and butter of the professionals and customers involved. Even as the industry’s plans are somewhat put on hold by the pandemic, experts are working hard across the sector to make sure that when “normal” comes back, it’s safe and secure for us all.