Sources

The Ebbage-Spencer report on Airmanship for Modern Aircrew is an interesting read and can be found at: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA428471&Location=U2&doc=GetTRD...

The “airmanship definitions mentioned come from these sources:

[1] Training Development and Support Unit Flying Training Development Wing, Airmanship TDSYU/779/1/5/TRG 27 June 2000

[2] Hayes, T. (2002) Airmanship & flight discipline.

[3] Kern, T. (1996). Redefining Airmanship. McGraw-Hill.

Two BAE Systems researchers — Louise Ebbage from BAE's Advanced Technology Center and Phil D. Spenser from BAE's Training Solutions operation — attempted to define “airmanship” in a paper presented during a 2003 NATO symposium. Exploring the literature they turned up several definitions. Here are a few (see the box at the end of the story if you want to learn more about these sources).

Airmanship is:

Effective decision making to support a sequence of actions.

The care and attitude that you bring to the conduct of your flying. It encompasses consideration for your passengers, care of your aircraft, courtesy to other airspace and airfield users, and the self-discipline to prepare and conduct your flights in the most professional manner possible. It is not just flying skill that distinguishes a good pilot; it is his or her standard of airmanship.

A personal and situational management state required to allow a human being to enter and exit in safety, an environment that they were not naturally designed to inhabit. The consistent use of good judgment and well-developed skills to accomplish flight objectives. This consistency is founded on a cornerstone of uncompromising flight discipline and developed through systematic skill acquisition and proficiency. A high state of situational awareness completes the airmanship picture and is obtained through knowledge of one's self, aircraft, team environment and risk.

Ultimately Ebbage and Spenser concluded that airmanship could be defined as:

A personal state that enables air crews to exercise sound judgment, display uncompromising flight discipline and demonstrate skillful control of an aircraft and a situation. It is maintained by continuous self-improvement and a desire to perform optimally at all times.

My first flight instructor — an old C-54 driver — summed up airmanship this way:

Know your airplane; know what's going on around you; fly the airplane; always leave yourself an out. (Personally, I like this one.)

So, what's the relevance of all of this to this month's accident report? Only that we're seeing far too many just like this one. Change the names, N-numbers and locations and you'll find a half dozen just like it each year. So, review the details; give this type of accident some thought and share those thoughts with your friends in the business pilot community — especially those who may be flying high-performance light aircraft in conditions that generate high workloads and require high performance of the pilot.