Own checklists

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by GreatLakesFlying, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. GreatLakesFlying

    GreatLakesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    During my primary training, I started typing my own checklists, mostly as an exercise to commit tasks to memory, and establish a process flow that was more ergonomic and cleaner than the flight school's. One thing led to another, the inner geek kicked in, and I have automated the entire design process. I use a database to capture items and actions and a simple script to produce the actual checklist.

    I strive to keep the workflow intuitive and clear. To that end, I'd welcome any feedback for the checklists I've developed. The list below is for the DA40 but the task flow should be familiar to any ASEL pilot. This list is based on the POH, just organized a bit differently, in a way that makes sense to me. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    If the pages seem to be out of order, it is because they are arranged so that they can print as an 8x5.5" booklet that I bind with loose leaf binder rings.

    Here's the masterpiece: Leo's DA40 XLS checklists. I welcome your feedback either as direct comments on the Google Doc or as posts here. I will summarize any Google Doc comments, here on this thread in a few days. If you are not too fond of Google Docs, I am also attaching a PDF copy.
     

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  2. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If it (in reverse order of importance) (3) doesn't contain a lot of extraneous junk, (2) contains the necessary information, (1) works for you (meaning you will actually use it, and not just before takeoff), it doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks of it.

    Like you, I began writing my own checklists as a student pilot almost 30 years ago. I don't share them - some years ago a friend and I were flying together and the FBO checklist wasn't in the airplane, so he asked to use mine. He couldn't. My personal checklists have a number of procedures very condensed and "Switches On" in place of a series of prompts to turn on lights, set radios, etc (so far, anyway, I have never forgotten to turn on my avionics or switch to the appropriate frequencies after start — I think it might be a sign it's time to consider quitting if I do :D ), were incomprehensible to him.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  3. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    I remember reading somewhere not long ago that the FAA frowns on owner produced checklists. That seems short sighted on their part. Most GA planes are old and have been through many changes th require changes to 5he checklist.

    Keep in mind the FAA’s motto: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”
     
  4. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It's not that the FAA frowns on checklists but they are justifiably concerned that the checklist contains the proper info and procedures. That is why they issued a SAFO on the issue in 2017. If you read the SAFO, there is no wording that prohibits the use of a personally developed checklist.
     
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  5. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My PP CFI wanted me to write my own checklist - as long as I didn't miss anything off the factory checklist. It's a good way to learn the systems, what to check, and why.
     
  6. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Writing the checklist is my first or second step when approaching a new to me airplane for precisely this reason.
     
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  7. Eric Brunelle

    Eric Brunelle Pre-Flight

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    I took mine from the POH, then added and eliminated some things. Printed, laminated and in my FF documents. As long as you don’t miss anything, I’m for making your own.
     
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  8. Dean V

    Dean V Pre-takeoff checklist

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    With addition of PFDs, autopilots and other various equipment, the original checklist can become obsolete.
     
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  9. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Foreflight lets you create your own checklists and while I suppose its possible, I doubt they'd miss an opportunity to charge for checklists and/or openly assist in violating an FAA policy.

    I've been creating my own checklists since my PPL days as well. My CFI at the time (and various CFI's in the interim) haven't been particularly big fans of it but since it contains pretty much everything on the flight school's checklist, they haven't made a big issue of it though they did note that if something happens and all that, they'd rather have the "engineer tested" checklist.

    Really though, my checklist is the "engineer tested" checklist customized for that aircraft (i.e. no AC or indicator light check if the plane isn't equipped with AC or indicator lights) and actually covers some items in more detail (such as my external walkaround/inspections). The only difference is like the OP I've re-ordered things to fit where they make sense in my flow and created a standard format for my checklists so that they basically look the same. I've pointed out that by using a standardized checklist that has the information in the same place for every plane, I stand less of a chance of skipping something because I lost my place and/or in the event of an emergency, I already know which side of the paper and where to look for the applicable checklist.

    I'd caution about sharing a custom checklist though. As @midlifeflyer noted, its possible your checklist may be incomprehensible or illogical to someone else but there's also a liability concern. If someone uses your checklist and its "missing" something (such as @midlifeflyer 's condensed "switches on") they could try to pass off liability for failure to complete an appropriate action onto the author of the checklist, so at bare minimum you should add a disclaimer to use at your own risk on the checklist itself (that way if you ever accidentally leave it behind in an aircraft, nobody assumes its the flightschools and starts making copies). Even with the assumed risk though, I dont know that I'd want the thought that somebody might have been using my checklist and it might have in some way contributed to some accident.
     
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  10. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I've got my own for the club planes. We've added equipment over the years and the factory checklists from Cessna don't address those items. I have all the stuff from the factory checklists, plus...
     
  11. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    Maybe you are young and invulnerable but for us old guys a very important part of the passenger brief is what to do if I am non-responsive.
     
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  12. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I did this when I first learned to fly. I reference the POH and made checklists that tailored my needs.
     
  13. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    I totally agree with this. I don't care if the FAA agrees or not, but the process of writing a checklist is worth a lot.
    I also tend to write in bold the items I am more prone to forgetting. So it is always an evolving process. I redo my checklists about twice a year.
     
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  14. GreatLakesFlying

    GreatLakesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is a good point. I never thought about the possibility of forgetting the checklists behind, and someone else using them. I will do add the disclaimer (or perhaps, rewrite my lists in Greek). Thanks!

    The more I think about this, the more I realize how important it is, regardless of age. Anyone of us can get incapacitated for various reasons. So what do you tell your passengers to do in case you are non-responsive? Do you instruct them on how to use the radio? How to help you to come to?
     
  15. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    I can't tell anyone how to care for an unresponsive person but they are welcome to slap me if they think that might help. Once we are clear of the pattern, I make sure they can hold the a/c reasonably straight and level, that they know how to talk on the radio (PTT and say anything coherent), and that they know how to flip-flop to guard if no response on the tuned freq. I do have an ESP checklist that I may or may not go over with them and if they are regulars, I do have pinch-hitter videos that I can loan them and can recommend a course.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Line Up and Wait

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    I’m considering writing a summer version and winter version. During winter, many walk around items I’d prefer to do in the hanger, and then sump tanks and squirt a bit out the gascolator outside, etc. So I’d just change the flow, same items... I’ll do it in FF...
     
  17. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Line Up and Wait

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    im also going to add to my list, as I’ve stripped the interior, there’s no reason for requiring myself to look at all the cables and pulleys now exposed each time.

    I’ve also added to my run up the last item “WHEN my engine dies on on THIS take off, I will yell “PUSH” and immediately do so! “ as a reminder as studies have been done we take an average of like 5 seconds to react to engine failure on take off...
     
  18. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This is an important consideration in rolling your own. We often forget that the POH contains AFM Supplements for certain equipment. These may contain not only additional items but the same items with different instructions.

    For a recent example from some club checkouts I'm doing, the DA40 with the standard 3-bladed prop has a continuous power limitation reflected in both the limitations section and the POH checklist. If you buy the model with the 2-bladed prop, those sections of the main POH do not have and changes. But if you go to the Supplement for the prop, you see both the limitation and the checklist power reduction after takeoff are removed.

    Add to that things we have learned through the years about operating procedures which vary the (very limited) checklists found in older models, and an accurate checklist without some pilot modification is probably the exception rather than the rule.
     
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  19. Lawson Laslo

    Lawson Laslo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My current checklist is a 3x5 double sided paper!
    Good but not very thorough
    Working with my cfi to make a new one
     
  20. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Small-GA checklists SUCK. They're "do-lists" that are loaded with extraneous crap, so they get printed in tiny print that leads to it being much more likely that you'll skip something important. My favorite example, from the C172:

    MASTER......... ON
    Fuel Gauges.... CHECK
    MASTER......... OFF

    How about you say to check the fuel gauges, and if they read empty but the tanks were full when I looked in them, I just go "Duh, those gauges are electric!" and flip the master on and check again. The procedures as they are are OK for learning, but absolutely atrocious for day-to-day flying once you know the airplane.

    It was a big eye-opener for me when I got to fly right seat in a Hawker 800. Those checklists were BEAUTIFUL. Clear, concise, with only important items on them. There are fewer checklist items before takeoff on the Hawker 800 than there are on a Cessna 172. Let that sink in. The system is very, very broken.

    I've made my own checklists for a lot of airplanes, and what I've found to be pretty much universally true in the piston GA world is that there are a crap-ton of unnecessary, extraneous items on the normal procedures, while the emergency procedures actually trend in the other direction - They'll tell you what to do with the airplane, but not the situation. For example, they sometimes won't say to slow to best glide and select a landing area first on an engine failure - They'll say to check the fuel selector, mags, etc. Given how humans tend to respond to sudden stressful situations, I want *everything* that I need to do on that list, just in case the adrenaline makes me stupid.

    Extremely. Especially when you're flying an airplane that not only has a POH but also over a half dozen AFMSs in it. You NEED to combine those at a minimum. You can't pull out eight different checklists for the same thing if you have an emergency just to check and make sure none of those AFMSs modifies the original checklist.

    Yup. Definitely some extras in the winter. It's also worth changing the flow based on the situation. Our club planes were at a ramp that the line guys had a not-short drive to. If you needed fuel or oil, it was going to take minimum 10 minutes to get to you, so it made sense to check fuel and oil first so you could get on with the rest of the preflight.
     
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  21. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think there are two big reasons for that.

    1. The Hawker 800 is far more complex than a 172. If that seems counterintuitive, look at it this way. What would the Hawker checklist look like if every system mentioned in it included the subtexts of how to check it? This will fit on a basic 172 checklist. You go to other pages to do it (if you need to) with the Hawker (I do that with my personal checklists too).

    2. 172s are flown by student and low-time pilots. I've seen some very early checklists and they read like a "here's how to fly" manual. That is still the case, but it has gotten worse and both aircraft manufacturers and independent checklist publishers, including flight schools and clubs, are shooting for the lowest common denominator. The Hawker checklists, instead, are aimed at experienced pilots, often with extensive recurrent training in the aircraft and its systems. And that's why folks who personalize often condense.

    Just different markets. Nothing wrong with the system, but it demonstrates the value of rolling your own,
     
  22. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Understood - But IMO Cessna and other manufacturers of airplanes used for training need to have two sets of procedures: The "do list" that is the "here's everything you need to do to fly this airplane" and the actual checklist, which is the "here's the stuff that's going to kill you and/or cause expensive maintenance problems" in a concise form. In between should be a set of flows that explain a logical order for going through things such that they're not scattered about the cockpit, and are done prior to the checklist such that the checklist is actually a *check* list, not a *do* list. Cessna even does this to some extent already, with their "amplified" procedures - But the flows are missing, and the non-amplified (ie checklist) part is still ridiculously long.

    That would at least allow people who have learned to fly the airplane to have something that actually works, rather than an insanely overwritten, overdone, tiny-print mess that everyone skips. That's the real problem. I've flown with a LOT of other pilots, and I can count on one hand the number who actually use checklists the way the pros do, and it's because it doesn't take long after they learn to fly the plane to just give up and say "I know how to fly this plane" and come up with alternate procedures to ensure that they catch the killer items... Hopefully. Some people don't do that part, and eventually, they get killed.

    An awful lot has been done with human factors in aviation, including the existence of checklists in the first place, but somehow the human factors people haven't gotten around to the actual usage of checklists, except in the airlines... Which are the safest part of aviation. Huh.
     
  23. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    A Hawker 800 requires a type rating, for which training will make you an expert in the operation of that particular airplane, and will require you to memorize lists of things to do and check, which are referred to as flows. That's how the checklist can be so short. Non-killer items are in the flow instead of the checklist. The garden variety GA pilot flying a 172 today might fly a Cherokee or a Grumman or an LSA on their next flight which might be 3 months from now, or up to 23 months from now if they aren't carrying passengers.
     
  24. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Understood - But that's why the checklists are stupid long, in tiny print, making it easy to miss a killer item or to just toss them aside entirely. That doesn't make anyone safer.
     
  25. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Maybe. But that doesn't mean an airline-style flow-and-checklist is better. Could we come up with something better than the typical GA checklist though? Maybe, but I don't know what it is.

    The fact that I've seen quite a few students not even remember to flip to the next page, even though I wrote "continues on next page" at the bottom of the checklist, does not inspire any confidence that a student will remember how to do a flow.
     
  26. MetalCloud

    MetalCloud Line Up and Wait

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    I have checklists in ForeFlight, but I modified them (well, just the Before Takeoff checklist) for a better flow and added a couple of items. The Perspective system has integrated checklists, but it's easier for me to run them on the iPad.
     
  27. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I don't use a checklist unless it's a new to me airplane. Just a CW circle starting in the lower left panel, and wrapping all the way around back to it. I have a student that put his checklist into Foreflight. Holy ****balls, we could be half way to the destination by the time he finishes going through that thing. So many swipes and screen pushes. For a *** **** 172.
     
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  28. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    I get to write my own checklists...and the POH, for that matter! Big print, some space between items and sturdy lamination. It helps that I have a very basic aircraft with fixed gear & FP prop, so all checklist items for a given phase of flight are easily contained on one page.
     
  29. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    I created my own spiral bound and laminated checklists, organized by phase of flight. It was a necessity with my plane as it has 2 rare STC's with supplemental checklist items.

    [​IMG]

    The lists were created in MS PowerPoint, printed and then taken to a local office supply store who then laminated and spiral bound them for $7. Printing in PowerPoint in landscape mode is the larger kneeboard version, and the smaller short pocket version is the same document printed in portrait mode.

    The front cover is important data. Look at the VSo metric for this 182P, which has a Robertson STOL kit. The emergency information is on a separate 8.5"x11" laminated card in the left-side knee pocket.

    More pictures and info is available here: http://welch.com/n46pg/category/pilot-created-checklists/

    -David
     
  30. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks RV Flyer. It’s finally a delight to use a checklist, when we can make one that works.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
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  31. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's amplified procedures that can be used when learning to fly a plane that give you all the hows and whats, followed by concise checklists with only the killer items, arranged in a way that lets you travel around the cockpit in a path that makes sense.
     
  32. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    The concept sounds nice but it's the implementation that matters, and the implementation of the concept can vary so widely that your solution really isn't one at all. You might as well have just said "flow and checklist" and I explained above why that won't work. If it was so great the FAA, manufacturers, and flight training industry would be using it already.
     
  33. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I agree with you. The problem with "universal condenscing" is that your need for a prompt for something may be very different than mine. I want more reminders. You want less. Or maybe just different ones. We'd be having the same discussion even if the manufacturer checklists were "better." It is simply a case of one size does not fit all.

    IMO, it is better to leave the manufacturer "universal/lowest common denominator" checklist comprehensive (and there are indeed some horrible ones) and leave it to pilots to modify for their own needs.

    My favorite modification is from a former student. The most common error in crosswind landings is neutralizing the controls on rollout. He comes for a lesson one day and tells me he added something to the checklist. On the landing (briefing) checklist was an item to remind him to go to full deflection.
     
  34. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    I wouldn't want to have my head buried in a checklist on rollout! :eek:
     
  35. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, cases like that people don't understand what a checklist actually is.
     
  36. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Who ever said he would? :dunno:
     
  37. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd like it to be a little less ridiculous. For example the master on, fuel gauges check, master off thing. Do you really need all three of those?