The IMSAFE checklist is a mnemonic resource that is used by pilots to assess whether they are physically and mentally fit to fly.
This is taught to pilots during their training but will be used throughout their profession to assess their health before boarding and piloting any flight.
The checklist covers Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, and Emotion.
Do you suffer from any type of illness that may affect your ability to fly the aircraft safely? Typically, the FAA requires pilots to hold a valid medical certificate before they can board the flight.
However, as medical tests are conducted annually there is a possibility that a pilot may suffer from a medical issue within this time which may prevent them from obtaining a medical certificate.
Medical exams are also only taken every five years and they do not cover illnesses such as colds which can still affect the pilot's ability to fly the aircraft. Pilots will need to consider any illnesses that they are currently suffering or recovering from to assess whether this will affect how they fly.
There are many types of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are not approved by the FAA because they can be dangerous to take before piloting a flight.
If you are taking medication for an illness or condition you must consult an aviation examiner beforehand to discuss whether it may hinder your ability to fly safely. There are also guidelines regarding how long you are required to wait in between doses and flying.
Stress is experienced by many people. It may be caused by work-related problems, family upset, or financial worry. Stress can be experienced in one of the three following ways; physiologically, psychologically, and environmentally.
If stress isn’t dealt with, over time it will accumulate and as a result, you may not perform as well. Before flying respond to any stress and engage in activities that will help to relieve it.
Alcohol and flying are not a good combination. Alcohol consumption can greatly affect performance and can hinder coordination and judgment.
The FAA regulations state that consuming alcohol within 8 hours of flying is prohibited and you should not fly if you are under the influence of alcohol or hungover.
Fatigue can affect people in different ways. For some, a lack of sleep may not greatly affect their ability to function properly, however, others may require a certain amount of sleep to perform and function.
As there isn’t a medical rectification to sleep fatigue, it will be managed differently depending on the individual's needs. Fatigue that affects your ability to function and concentrate presents a hazard.
Familiarize yourself with your sleep requirements and adopt a sleep schedule that suits that factoring in any time changes that may affect this.
Emotions can often overcome the calmest of individuals and this can affect their ability to perform safely.
Stress can often heighten emotions making them difficult to manage. Assess whether you are in an emotionally stable state and fit to fly.
What is the PAVE checklist?
Conducting pre-flight checks before flying is crucial to ensure that the plane is safe for you and your passengers.
A PAVE checklist allows you to evaluate any hazards that you may encounter whilst flying and the process required to respond to these risks. PAVE covers the following; Personal (PIC), Aircraft, Environment, and External Pressures.
This assesses the health and experience of the pilot. Before flying, the pilot must be deemed fit to fly. To evaluate whether this is the case, a personal assessment can be conducted using the IMSAFE checklist.
The aircraft must be airworthy and any potential limitations must be identified. It will need to have been inspected and it must have the correct and necessary equipment for the flight.
Also, ensure that it has enough fuel to embark on the journey. It’s also important to gain an understanding of how the aircraft will perform in different situations. Ensure that you are comfortable with the aircraft before proceeding with the flight.
The weather can greatly impact the flight. However, factors such as the terrain, airspace, airport, and time of flight are also key environmental considerations. You must be aware of the weather forecast to assess whether you are comfortable flying in the expected conditions.
Also, is the land going or airport going to present any obstacles. Before flying, pilots are advised to refer to PIREPs and NOTAMs.
This refers to outside factors that may cause the pilot to feel stressed about completing the flight. For example, there may be people waiting at the airport for the flight to arrive or the pilot may feel a desire to impress a passenger or friend.
External pressures can be caused by a range of factors but may result in risky decision-making that presents a threat to safety. Pilots must ensure that they are comfortable with flying and not subject to any pressures, in doing so potential hazards will be avoided.