Pilot Risk Management... I'M SAFE to fly? by Lou DiVentura CFI

So here we are mid February 2021, President Biden has taken office, Covid-19 is on the decline, Texas hit with a powerful ice storm and some pilots are still taking to the skies maybe not so safe. According to the FAA CFR's and the AIM booklet chapter 8 Medical facts for Pilots, they must be fit for the flight, both physically and mentally.


For me and my students a typical lesson usually starts out with a phone call or text saying "Hey are you IMSAFE today ???" usually with a reply....." Hey Lou - all good here, gonna head over for preflight". So for me it's a green light before a flight lesson signifying that what I have taught my student about being "Fit for Flight" he or she completely understands the importance of the IMSAFE checklist.




Some years back, the FAA and the NTSB got together to find out why there were so many General Aviation accidents and incidents happening in the US compared to that of the commercial aviation sector. After years of compiling data, they found out some common denominators causing these issues. Since most general aviation pilots only regularly fly on the yearly average of (+ - ) 50 hours, their muscle memory skills aren't that sharp, combine them with having two or more health issues stated below and you guessed it.......it's a recipe for disaster.


So the FAA now recommends that all instructors teach the "IMSAFE" checklist at the beginning stages of training so as to instill a regular habit of pilots analyzing themselves mentally and physically before they even step foot into the plane, thus in doing so you help to identify and reduce the risks associated with flying. The FAA states that if you have two or more of these issues then you should ground yourself and call it a "NO GO".   Click here for some examples of medications not approved for flight.                                                         


"I" is for Illness......Do I have any symptoms? Fever, bad headache, sinus infection?


"M" is for Medications.....Are you taking prescriptions or an over the counter medication?


"S" is for Stress........We all have stress, the FAA is talking about the over the top kind, loss of a loved one, job loss, family problems, financial issues. 


"A" is for Alcohol....When people are stressed, alcohol steps into the picture....not good....FAA CFR 91.17 states that you cannot fly if you had a drink in the last 8 hours that would cause you to have a alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. Remember "8 Hours from Bottle to Throttle" Click here for a FAA Safety brochure. 


"F" is for Fatigue.......Simple.....Did you get a good night's rest? Maybe that power nap before your flight?


"E" is for Eating & External Pressures.....Did you eat healthy today, are you hydrated? Plus are you anxious for the flight....weather ? business meeting? passengers?






* FAA Risk Management Handbook (Chapter 6)

Pilot Information - Over-the-Counter Medications (faa.gov)

* https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/medications/

Alcohol and Flying Brochure (faa.gov)



What other acronyms do you know? Tell me in the comment section below.

Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Kevin Bradberry (Wednesday, 24 February 2021 06:53)

    This simple checklist has had a great deal of meaning for me. It reminds me before each flight I take, that I am first and most important instrument in the plane. Take care of you first, so that you can take care of others without fail.

  • #2

    Mike T (Wednesday, 24 February 2021 08:13)

    Well said

  • #3

    Adrianna (Wednesday, 24 February 2021 15:00)

    Very informative!! The acronym IMSAFE is explained in a simple, yet appropriate way to help your students remember the safety of flying. Little techniques like this to help us remember certain things are super important in the equation for success :)

  • #4

    Dom Monteleone (Thursday, 25 February 2021 07:36)

    Something I use and every pilot should use before every flight. Interesting to know the history of it!