What are the 5 Ps in Aviation?

A pilot is responsible for responding to many situations and making the appropriate decisions as a result. These decisions will account for any hazards that have been identified, ensuring that all risks are handled.

The 5 Ps model refers to 5 possible challenges and opportunities that the pilot will be confronted with during the flight.

Depending on the nature of the situation, the pilot will need to make a single critical decision or many smaller decisions that will amount to a critical outcome. 

This checklist is referred to at key points during preflight, pre-takeoff, multiple occasions throughout the journey, just before the final approach, or just before entering the pattern of traffic, or in the event of an emergency.

The pilot will need to refer to the 5 P plan at times when they consider it necessary. For example, bad weather can present a safety risk so in this instance, the best point to cancel the flight is before the passengers board the airplane. The pilot will also refer to this plan before taking off.

Any issues concerning the safety of those on the aircraft will be responded to and a decision made as to whether it is safe to proceed with the flight. This checklist should then be referred to at the midpoint of the journey, and hourly on flights that exceed two hours.

It is important to conduct checks at these points because pilots can begin to experience physical fatigue on longer flights which may impact their judgment. This also provides a viable point for the pilot to check the location of the airport at which they are due to arrive.

The final decisions are made as the pilot prepares to land the aircraft. They will need to account for changing conditions and how they may affect their approach to the runway. Preparing ahead of time allows the pilot to plan a safe landing.

Ultimately, this model surrounds the concept of making scheduled decisions at specific times.

The 5 Ps that Compromise this Plan are as Follows:


The plan, occasionally referred to as the mission covers all aspects of pre-flight planning from the route to the weather and fuel requirements.

This should be referred to regularly as some challenges prior to taking off may have affected the plan in some way. Regularly checking it throughout the journey will ensure that it is updated accordingly.


This covers any elements that link to the operability and mechanics of the aircraft.

For example, ensuring that the relevant maintenance has been carried out and the plane has all of the equipment that may be needed during the flight. Now, it also refers to the automation status and database currency.


The pilot must be prepared for the flight. Before take-off pilots are advised to refer to the IMSAFE checklist which will evaluate whether they are fit to fly. Pilots will also need to conduct a preflight health assessment before boarding the plane.

The specifications of the IMSAFE checklist state the following, ‘’illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue, emotion’’. Not only are pilots responsible for navigating the aircraft, but they are faced with many risks too. Often they will travel at high altitudes and their regularly changing flight schedules mean that many experience some level of fatigue. 

This section of the checklist ensures that the pilot is aware of any challenges they may encounter during the final stages of their journey so that they can respond accordingly and ensure that any issues concerning the above factors are avoided so that everyone can travel safely.


Some passengers will have external requirements such as feelings of anxiety towards flying, or a need to reach their destination, etc. Many of these factors can become dangerous distractions and many passengers are unaware of the risks associated with flying.

On some occasions, the passengers may be the pilot, and having multiple individuals trying to do the same task can be problematic, particularly when they are likely to have contrasting ways of approaching and making decisions.

Considering any of these issues will prepare you ahead of the flight so you can deal with them if any should arise


The final stage of the checklist focuses on programming and this can include handheld and panel mounted equipment.

Advancements in aviation now mean that the workload of the pilot is reduced courtesy of electronic displays, autopilot, and moving maps. Before taking off, you must ensure that the avionics are updated and configured correctly. 

Pilots can also dedicate a lot of time and attention to this equipment during the flight and this presents the risk of this technology becoming a serious distraction.

To ensure that such issues are avoided, pilots should use this section of the approach to ensure that they are familiar with the functionality of the equipment and have a thorough understanding of how it works.