The Use Of Checklist - Good or bad?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by easik, Aug 1, 2020 at 1:03 AM.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ever since I was a student, it's been drilled in me to use a checklist. But recently I was flying with a more experienced test pilot, and he tells me that paper checklist can do more harm than good because you're not thinking when you're using it. You simply become a robot and just go through a list without questioning why?
    He thinks it's better for you as the PIC to have and practice your own cockpit flow in every phase of flight.
    Is he right? what's been your experience?
     
  2. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    I think most will say that a combination of both is a good idea.
     
  3. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    There’s a reason every airline uses a flow, then backs up critical items with a checklist.
     
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  4. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    You can't just read it and robotically say yes. Do your stuff then circle back and check it.. it is a checklist after all not a to-do list
     
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  5. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    He's right if he backs it up with a written checklist. Also, sometimes it's a good idea to have a "Do list" for certain non-standard procedures like, say, a flooded start? Or for even a standard procedure if you don't fly often enough to perform it from memory first. CIGARTIP was my crutch for simple planes. The "Three 'M's" (mixture, master, mags) will get you going. YMMV.
     
  6. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    I don’t use checklists as a robot. I know why the points in the checklist are there, and they are important.
    I guess a person can, but if your head is in the game you don’t just mindlessly check off points.
    I worked hard at memorizing a few of the prestart, and start checklists, and even though I was sure I had it down cold, proceeded to go through it from memory and my CFI was adamant, very vocal that no...use the checklist. Even though I still intended to double check after the steps, such as before ignition.

    All it takes is a second where you get distracted and think you did something, to maybe find yourself taking off with mixture leaned (not because of density alt. But when it should be full rich), or autopilot on, or whatever.

    I know even non flying, every now and then for example I turn off my car engine while still in drive. Maybe once every six months. Many other foibles make me realize how easy it is to be sure you did a step and yet wrong.
     
  7. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I think a fair amount depends on complexity of the plane, familiarity, along with pilot experience, type of flying.

    If a person owns a Cherokee, is off on a VFR flight, & very familiar, may not need any real checklist.

    If renting a lesser known plane, IFR launch, could be different. There are ways to come up short whether one used a checklist or not. Early in training & experience, checklists are used more often.

    To be honest, I set up for flight, no checklist.
     
  8. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

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    Use of checklist, good.

    I perform the task or flow and then use the checklist as a backup. When I review the list I'll visually confirm each of the items. It works for me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020 at 7:07 AM
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  9. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Checklist or no checklist, if the pilot just goes through the motion without actually CHECKING, then it doesn't matter.
     
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  10. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think most will agree with that statement.
     
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  11. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I wouldn’t say checklists make you robotic but I have seen people, including myself read the checklist without verifying the switch is in the proper position. Sometimes you just get complacent and it becomes rote and familiar that you don’t look at the switch. Good checklist discipline is very important.
     
  12. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    Some items on standard checklists are just dumb.

    For example under takeoff/climb: throttle-full power

    Do you really need that?! I personally have never sat on the runway wondering why the plane won’t take off because I forgot to push the throttle in.
     
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  13. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Yep. A flow backed up by a nice, concise checklist works best for me. You don’t need to checklist to tell you to get the ATIS. Items like fuel pumps, mixture, pitot heat, etc are important.
     
  14. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ross Russo who was an AF fighter pilot tells the story of them preflighting the jets. They got dinged for not using the checklists, so the next thing they did was carry a checklist while they were preflighting. Soon, they were dinged again because it became clear they weren't actually looking at it since they never turned the pages. The next thing they learned was where in their preflight flow they needed to turn the page on the checklist that they still weren't looking at.
     
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  15. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do/verify method. Professionals ALWAYS use a checklist both in part 135 and 121 world.
     
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  16. kep5niner

    kep5niner Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Coming from the Army, "use of the checklist is mandatory." Mind you, there are expanded procedures that must be memorized, such as the checklist item "Overhead circuit breakers and switches - check." That's one item on the checklist, with 25 substeps to that item. That's where the flow comes into play.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020 at 12:39 PM
  17. KSCessnaDriver

    KSCessnaDriver Pattern Altitude

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    Exactly. When you read the checklist 12 times in 4 days, it doesn't take long until you know what's on the checklist.
     
  18. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Anyone can screw things up using both methods. I’ve missed steps by using a checklist and missed steps by trying to do items from memory. I’d say I’ve forgotten far more items by skipping the checklist though...of course not at work because I always use a checklist.;)

    I do think we try and “checklist out” human error when in reality, a lot of mistakes are just plain poor judgment.
     
  19. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    As a student of course it’s a different world than when you have hundreds of hours logged, but I actually like that we are expected to (and do) point to each control, gauge, whatever in the checklist.
    It still can be human nature that you see what you expect to see.
     
  20. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The flow is good use the checklist after to make sure you did not skip something. I have done lot's of gear up landings, the gear down in a water landing never goes well.
     
  21. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    still, it would be strange if they left it off of a checklist wouldn’t it?

    Also, yes, checklists are or can be dumb. They can be difficult, and at flying clubs it’s often one guy doing it, and some points are not even logical. Mine forgets to have a point of releasing the brakes before taxiing. The “flow” for starting to me is messed up. In a Cessna I think it makes much more sense to go from source to end..check fuel selector, cutoff, mixture, throttle. They have steps between each and it’s in a weird order to me.

    But I live with it.
     
  22. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Made my own checklist, do you flow, verify with checklist. Excluded all dumb stuff...
     
  23. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    I do my walk around by memory. Then I sit in the plane and take a deep breath and pick up the check list and visualize me having done each item. If I can't say I did it on THAT preflight then I go out and do it. I turn my list over and read the start checklist before I do it. Once settled I start up and switch from being guy with a plane to guy flying a plane.
     
  24. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Years ago I realized that sometimes we don't see what we think we do. Many of you may have already seen this:

     
  25. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    It's too easy to miss an item without a checklist. As you get older, you will understand better. ;) I don't use checklists for everything, but I do for takeoff and landing. I've run the takeoff and landing checklists so many times, I can do it in my sleep, but that level of familiarity can be a problem. The checklist items ensure things get verified.

    Pre-flights I don't use a checklist. I just make sure I look at every accessible part of the airplane, and of course that requires fuel sampling when looking at the fuel drains, and oil check when looking over the engine compartment, etc. It's amazing how even little things stick out: a backed-out baffle screw, missing fairing screw, brake fluid drips, etc. Without a checklist, the biggest concern is getting interrupted and losing track of where you left off. If interrupted, it's usually best to just start over.
     
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  26. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    This.

    While not the only reason for the airline safety record vs general aviation, it’s data to back up the claim that checklists are a component of safety risk reduction, not increase. I don’t care if it’s causation or correlation. Don’t fly without a flow AND a checklist.
     
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  27. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    When discussing checklists, it is helpful to break them down into CHECKLISTS and DO-LISTS.

    A DO-LIST is a list of steps to accomplish. It is a set of instructions for accomplishing a task or procedure. You use it by reading an item and them doing the item. Read, do. Read, do. etc. Non-normal procedures are always DO-LISTS. A DO-LIST is appropriate for a task which you wouldn't otherwise know how to do.

    A CHECKLIST is a list of essential tasks that, if skipped, have the potential to cause a threat to safety. The CHECKLIST doesn't provide every step in the procedure, only the ones that can become threats if missed. i.e. The before start checklist wouldn't need to include Master Switch - On because skipping that step will only lead the the starter not turning when you try to start the engine. It is self correcting. It would include items such as seat belts on, door(s) closed, anti-collision lights on, etc.

    A CHECKLIST is for routine tasks that are performed on every flight. Tasks which a qualified pilots already knows how to do without the need for a DO-LIST. Flows can be learned and used to accomplish the tasks in a systematic manner then, when ready, a quick read through the items on the CHECKLIST confirms that nothing important has been missed. CHECKLISTS should be short so that proficient pilots won't quite using it due to excessive length. You've probably seen some very short CHECKLISTS as placards in some airplanes on the panel or yoke clip.

    Flight schools tend to use DO-LISTs. They often create custom lists that are ridiculously long in an attempt to ensure that their students learn all of the small details, many of which would be second nature to more experienced pilots. They have the students work through these do-lists step-by-step with the result of eating up a lot of HOBBS time and ensuring that nobody takes off before the oil temperature is near the top of the green arc. While this approach is probably necessary for beginning students, it tends to keep the students in rote-mode, maybe even a bit overwhelmed, for longer than needed and few have any system for moving the more advanced students to a flow + checklist model as they gain experience. Excessively long CHECKLISTS are the primary reason pilots tend to slack off on their checklist discipline as they gain experience.

    In professional flying, we use flows + CHECKLISTS for all normal procedures and DO-LIST for all non-normal procedures. I've flown transport jets with as few as three items on their before landing CHECKLIST. Generally, the before start/preflight checklist is the longest one.
     
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  28. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    In my experience, using checklists doesn’t cause nearly the problems that pretending to use checklists does.
     
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  29. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Once you get familiar with a particular airplane a flow works very well.
     
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  30. falconkidding

    falconkidding Line Up and Wait

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    Agree with Larry regarding checklist vs do list.

    I hate most checklist in GA aircraft they are way too long and for me it leads to just reading through it just to get it out of the way.

    Checklist should be to protect against an undesired aircraft configuration for that phase of flight, or something safety/regulatory related

    If your checklist has "get atis" Or "turn avionics on" or the entire runup procedure its probably not a good checklist.
     
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  31. wilkersk

    wilkersk Pattern Altitude

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    I was in the right seat one day with an acquaintance who habitually did a verbal "GUMP" check in every airplane he flew. On this particular day, he went through the usual "Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Prop". I asked if he had any trouble remembering to ACTUALLY put the gear down when he flew the RG after spending so much time in the 172. He said, "oops!"
     
  32. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Because it's faster.

    That's why airline style flow-checklist procedures don't work for GA pilots. They are meant for people who fly one airplane and fly it every day.
     
  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    That would fall under “pretending to use a checklist”.
     
  34. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I use some checklist sections before the flow. For example, I use my before landing checklist on descent as a "briefing" instead of waiting until I am right near the pattern. Part of the reason is flying multiple airplanes. I want that extra reminder of what's different in this airplane, like it's a retract.