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There are numerous reasons why pilots fail their Command Course, but it is not usually due to poor handling skills. Failure is more often because the individual has poor ‘non-technical’ skills.

The following list provides examples of the more usual reasons why candidates might fail a Command Course:

Poor knowledge and/or application of procedures:

  • Not having an overall good standard of technical and regulatory knowledge (such as not understanding an aircraft checklist and just blindly following it).

Poor communication:

  • Under assertiveness and, in rarer cases, over assertiveness.
  • Using unclear or using non-standard terminology.
  • Being too verbose, not being clear, or mumbling.
  • Being hard for others to understand their intent or commands.

Poor leadership and team working:

  • Poor demonstration of the ability to lead, command and control (such as displaying followership instead of leadership).
  • Not demonstrating the ability to lead and
  • Not demonstrating the ability to maintain the best level of safety in a situation with a weak or non-proactive fellow pilot, e.g. a low hour pilot or someone who has lost Situational Awareness. (You must be able to take an independent lead and make safe decisions in critical situations).
  • Unclear assignment of duties or weak instructions.

Poor workload management:

  • Wasting time on irrelevant data (e.g. landing distance calculation when you are committed to a particular runway with limited fuel).
  • Mis-identification of key priorities (E.g. fuel, Configuration).
  • Becoming bogged down in irrelevant checks or specifics, whilst missing other priorities.
  • Poor structure or methodology around management and control of abnormal situations.
  • Poor task-sharing (such as constantly ‘flip-flopping’ of aircraft control and distribution of duties).

Poor situational awareness:

  • Lack of systems or aircraft state awareness.
  • Not aware of all environmental considerations.
  • Lack of awareness of a commanders empowerment to abbreviate ‘normal’ actions in ‘abnormal’ situations to improve overall safety and options…..e.g. SOP #1 = land the aircraft safely, with the greatest range of reasonable options – if that means reasonably abbreviating a lengthy checklist and picking out the obvious key items, using aircraft systems/Config etc to not run hazardously low on fuel, then so be it.

Poor problem solving and decision making:

  • Not having a robust methodology or failure management/decision making structure (e.g not using DODAR when necessary – other acronyms are available – or not deploying it from the commanders perspective).
  • Not gathering sufficient options and appropriate option selection.

Poor attitude to threat and error management:

  • Not putting a mistake behind them and letting the mistake affect their future performance.
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