The Flight Risk Assessment Tool - FRAT
Written by CHI Dispatcher Lisa
Let’s talk about FRATs….
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times “please file your FRAT!” The question is WHY do we ask you to file those? Why take time out of your already busy pre-flight activities to complete this task? The short answer of course is SAFETY! Safety for yourselves, others, the equipment, and our school.
The Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAAST) is quoted as saying “when implementing a Safety Management System (SMS), one of the most critical components to develop is a Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT). Because every flight has some level of risk, it is critical that pilots are able to differentiate, in advance, between a low risk flight and a high risk flight, and then establish a review process and develop risk mitigation strategies. A FRAT enables proactive hazard identification, is easy to use, and can visually depict risk. It is an invaluable tool in helping pilots make better go/no-go decisions and should be a part of every flight.”
Being mid-flight and having to mitigate a risk is not an ideal situation! Often, we aren’t completely honest with ourselves and do not err on the side of caution. We have heard the term “get-home-it is” or, “I had my blinders on”. These can apply to many of the risky decisions we make.
By conducting a self-evaluation and honestly assessing the flight parameters, you as PIC, can determine a true go/no-go scenario. By completing the FRAT, you can objectively analyze whether or not you should complete a flight.
The FRAT system is intended to help you to mitigate those hazards which might make for an unsafe flight. We know that flying is inherently risky, but also greatly rewarding! By documenting your known and/or perceived risks through our google drive survey before your flight, you'll be able to manage, or better yet, eliminate these risks.
The CHI team spent a lot of time creating the FRAT. They created questions using the PAVE checklist, Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures. Values were then assigned to each question. If you aren't familiar with the PAVE checklist, reference our article about it here.
As you know, the FRAT survey assigns a point value upon completion. This point value determines what safety level your flight is. Reference the chart below for guidance:
Additionally, the FRAT gives a decision tree for any given point total. For example, if a pilot with less than 100 hours scores less than a 15, they make the decision. On the other hand, if they score more than an 80, the decision to fly must be discussed with the Chief CFI.
Of course, a low, normal score is great – but not without risk! A high score, high risk evaluation does not automatically mean you are grounded. Both flights require that you work with your team (CFI or Chief CFI) to evaluate why you gave yourself that score and how those risks can be mitigated. Many times, by just having the conversation, we can work through the issues and find a solution.
The purpose of this article is to inform you of the importance of this self-evaluation. Many of you complete your FRATs – but many do NOT. It is my goal to get 100% participation! Perhaps you’re thinking it just doesn’t apply to you (it does!) Maybe you’re unsure how to file a FRAT (that’s ok – we can help!) Maybe you think you don’t have the time (you must MAKE the time!) The FRAT is a great tool, and it should be in your proverbial “toolkit.”
As always, feel free to ask any CHI employee for guidance in completing the FRAT!