Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM)

An airplane taking off as seen from the airport waiting area
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Single-pilot resource management, or SRM, is a derivative of crew resource management (CRM) and is a relatively new term that applies to single-pilot operations. CRM was implemented to help crewmembers communicate effectively while using all available resources to identify and manage risks before, during, and after a flight. Single-pilot resource management is the same thing, but for pilots who operate without fellow crewmembers. SRM was implemented as part of the FAA FITS program.

Single-pilot operations are inherently more dangerous than operations that involve crewmembers. A single person can be more easily overwhelmed when faced with multiple decisions to make. Task management can quickly become difficult for even seasoned pilots when things go wrong. For example, in the same emergency, a dual-pilot crew can divide the responsibilities and tasks in half, and each accomplishes their given tasks. Airline pilots can be assisted by flight attendants, off-duty crew members, and even passengers in emergency situations.

SRM Concepts

A single pilot has nobody to help him. The good news is that through SRM, a single pilot is taught to manage workload, mitigate risk, correct errors, and make good decisions—just the same as a crew would do with CRM concepts.

  • Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) and Risk Management (RM): SRM training teaches pilots appropriate decision-making strategies and risk-management techniques. Each flight has some level of risk to it; pilots should know how to do a risk assessment, how to reduce risk, and how to make decisions based on all available information.
  • Task Management (TM): Task management is all about prioritizing and identifying tasks that can be completed before, during, and after a flight to ensure efficient operation without task overload.
  • Automation Management (AM): Today's flying environment is filled with TAA and glass cockpits, so automation management has become a very important concept. Pilots should practice good AM by programming information into avionics before a flight if possible, and by knowing precisely how their systems operate. An extensive knowledge of automation is extremely important for single pilots.
  • CFIT Awareness: Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) continues to be a problem, and single pilots must identify the risks associated with each flight before, during, and after flying. Knowing terrain and aircraft capabilities is essential.
  • Situation Awareness (SA): Situational awareness is a no-brainer for single pilots. Pilots must stay aware of their position at all times. It's easy to get confused, especially in the clouds, and lack of situational awareness quickly leads to very bad days. Pilots should use the above concepts to help them remain aware of their location, route, altitude, etc. at all times.

The 5 Ps

A helpful way for a pilot to assess his or her situation as a single pilot is to utilize the concept of the 5 Ps, which is a practical way for the pilot to analyze the risks associated with the elements of a flight. 

  • Plan: The pilot should accomplish all preflight planning and be prepared to adjust the flight plan as necessary during the flight. The plan also involves circumstances surrounding the flight planning process, like gathering weather information and assessing the route.
  • Plane: The airplane is obviously a significant element of the flight, and the pilot should asses the risks associated with inoperative equipment and the general shape of the airplane. 
  • Pilot: The pilot should assess himself with a risk assessment checklist and the I'M SAFE checklist, but should also assess his currency and proficiency, as well as the conditions of the flight in relation to his abilities and his personal minimums. 
  • Passengers: Passengers can present challenges like illness, fear, discomfort, and distractions. It's best for a pilot to plan for passenger challenges ahead of time, like providing them each with water and sick sacks, and briefing them about what will occur. 
  • Programming: Advanced avionics must be understood completely and programmed correctly. 

By assessing each of these items and the variables involved, a pilot can effectively discover and mitigate risks and make knowledgeable decisions on the spot.