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CFI Brief: Pilot Deviations, Stay Alert!

Yesterday, the FAA Safety Team distributed a newly published Fly Safe Fact Sheet, Avoiding Pilot Deviations (PDs). Now listen, if you’ve read this blog over the years you know we have discussed this topic before. However, it’s worth discussing on the regular since PDs can lead to serious consequences in the form of accidents or enforcement violations.

If you are not already familiar with what a pilot deviation is, it is defined as an action of a pilot that violates any Federal Aviation Regulation. While PDs should be avoided, the regulations do authorize deviations from a clearance in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory. Meaning, if a possible collision with another aircraft or vehicle is imminent it is OK to deviate. You must however notify ATC as soon as possible following a deviation.

Piot deviations are broken down into two separate categories, airborne and ground. Airborne deviations result when a pilot strays from an assigned heading or altitude or from an instrument procedure, or if the pilot penetrates controlled or restricted airspace without ATC clearance. Ground deviations (also called surface deviations) include taxiing, taking off, or landing without clearance, deviating from an assigned taxi route, or failing to hold short of an assigned clearance limit.

Ways to Avoid Pilot Deviations:

Plan each flight —you may have flown the flight many times before but conditions and situations can change rapidly, such as in the case of a pop-up temporary flight restriction (TFR). Take a few minutes prior to each flight to plan accordingly.

Talk and squawk —Proper communication with ATC has its benefits. Flight following often makes the controller’s job easier because they can better integrate VFR and IFR traffic.

Give yourself some room —GPS is usually more precise than ATC radar. Using your GPS to fly up to and along the line of the airspace you are trying to avoid could result in a pilot deviation because ATC radar may show you within the restricted airspace.

Stay Alert – This is often overlooked during ground operations. It’s important that whether you are in the air or on the ground you maintain focus and alertness at all times. Keep your head out of the cockpit and on a swivel.

Click the below image to access the FAA Fact Sheet and see the full text on the 4 steps to avoid pilot deviations.

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