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).
- 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.