I'm curious, is it acceptable to do checklists while flying (and on the ground) entirely from memory? At a PPL level at least.
I've always been told to use the real physical checklist as a reference, which is fine by me, but after watching some vids on youtube I get the idea that a lot of pilots don't really bother with double-checking anything by cross-referencing the checklist. Is this common practice after you are familiar with the aircraft?
Apologies if this is the wrong section for this question.
1) It depends, we'll probably shortly see strong, reasoned arguments for totally opposed opinions. If you're flying someone else's aircraft, do it the way they want you to.
2) Yes, pilots will do checks from memory once they think they are familiar with them (assuming we're talking light aircraft). I'm not necessarily advocating it, but it happens. I don't normally use one in a PA28, but then I've got thousands of hours in a PA28. I do use one in some other aircraft I fly.
Humm, on a light aircraft hard to say. I always use mnemonics and back it up with a checklist. On the jet (day job) always, one reason is professionalism, but for me it's simple, if you follow the checklist through with your thumb, you won't miss anything. Its up to you, but I know what I would do. It's not about looking cool, it's about being safe
if you follow the checklist through with your thumb, you won't miss anything.
Wow, that's a really brave statement. Seriously though, while I think it's reasonable to say that the use of a printed checklist, will be beneficial, especially in the early stages, if we assume that the OP is referring to light aircraft. There's been many times I've had students skip a line, or even an entire section/page, even if they have been using the "thumb" technique.
mrmum, I think Cortina was meaning it works provided that you actually read what your thumb is pointing at.
I do however see advantages of doing it from memory. Especially in tricky airspace with lots of traffic to look out for. The more time your eyes spend looking for potential hazzards outside the better. Looking down on a checklist does not help.
I know you could probably turn that the other way round though and say its not as safe in case you miss something important. I agree with that too.
Good point, I have been round the. 737 long enough to know the checklist and most of the QRH. However I follow what Boeing say. I may have been a tad abrupt with my previous reply, it would have been better to say, by using your thumb, you are less likely to forget or miss a item. What ever you do, fly safe.
I think you may have picked up on this from the 'Bush pilots' thread and the apparent lack of checklist use and that is the typical situation where check are memory, muscle memory, indeed. Skydive flying is another example. You won't last long as a skydive pilot if you insist on having a checklist as long as your arm.
From my own experience in certain scenarios a checklist is merely a hindrance.
Redsnail put it best in the other thread:
Well, my old Chief pilot said "if you know why you're doing the checks, then you don't forget them". They're mainly flying fixed gear, single engine constant speed prop a/c. It really isn't rocket science.
She's been there and done that so she knows what she's talking about but you have to remember these guys are extremely current in the aircraft they fly and it's SOP with the operator.
That doesn't mean you should toss your checklist in the back and try to guess your way through the checks.
Instructors may throw their hands in the air as such heresy but remember most have never worked in that kind of flying and even if they have they're going to teach you properly.
So stick with your checklist for now. Maybe one day flying your little Cub or whatever you won't need it anymore.
If you're only every going to be flying a basic SEP, then fine forget the printed check and memorise the few checks there are, as most people do if they're only ever going to fly one type.
However, if you're likely to jump from one aircraft to another, say VP prop which needs checking pre-flight, fuel injected engine which is a completely different starting technique to carb, or if you're looking to go to airlines in the future then I would use the checklist every flight purely to keep the checklist using skills current so when you need it, you're not losing your place all the time or having no idea what you're actually checking for.
Also, lets say you only ever fly a PA28. You memorise the checks now, and are flying every few days, it works great. Once you have a month or two without flying (which you definitely will at some point) you come back and realise you're rusty as hell and need the checklist. So even if you memorise the checks, I would still have the list there and follow it through.
As many others pointed out, I think there are lots of different opinions on this.
I believe the idea, or the philosophy, behind a checklist is to complete all the items off memory, and then run through the checklist as a final "net" to catch anything that was missed.
If time permits, for example, on the ground - running the "Before Take-Off" Checklist from paper makes sense....or doing the "Descent" Checklist during the cruise. But for checklists which may come during a high workload (i.e. "after take off" or "landing") it could make sense to just do it off memory.
Having said that though, I am always in favor of doing ALL the checklists from paper - especially if you are going to be flying bigger and more complicated planes in the future - its important to establish these good habits now as it will help you later on down the road. Plus, you will probably want to do all your checklists properly for your test flights (i.e. PPL, CPL...etc)
Firstly, they are used for confirmation that routine memory items have been completed at pre-determined stages of the operation.
Secondly, they direct courses of action for non-routine phases of flight in addition to confirming that memory items have been carried out as required.
In complex aircraft, and certainly in airline transport category aircraft, the checklists are numerous and often require action in combination with more than one checklist. These aircraft types also utilize two pilots normally, as well as possibly three autopilots. As such they enable checklists and "QRH's" to be utilized effectively as part of the operation.
I have to say that I personally find it quite disappointing to see the reliance that PPL trainees often place on their written checklists. In my opinion, basic training should be used to ingrain the use of mnemonics and memory items in the basic operating philosophy of simple aircraft types. Why?
Well, these basic operating mnemonics form the basic operating philosophy of almost every aircraft you are ever likely to fly. They should stay with you throughout your flying career. However you learn them, and whatever form they take, it is (with often minor modification) the same basic mnemonic that gets a 767 round the circuit, as it is a cessna 150 or a PA28. Instilling the confidence in a student during their basic training is (again in my opinion) something that will stay with them throughout their career, and will prevent the "emergency" that seems to form in their mind when the checklist slides under their seat, towards the back of the aircraft, or otherwise gets lost.
On the other side of that argument, is the fact that litigation and the need to train the use of checklist philosophy, presents its own realities that most flying instructors would be correct and quick to point out. Of course they are both very valid points. Checklists are a safety tool, and they are indeed the Standard Operating Procedure in any transport operation. It therefore follows that in the real world the use of checklists must be taught, and their use properly followed in conjunction with both the aircraft manufacturers and the training organisations SOP's.
Neither method should therefore be exclusive of the other. However, the use of mnemonic memory based checks is still (I believe) fundamental to basic training, and a confidence builder that is not always being employed as often as it should be.
Simple aircraft should equal simple checklists which should be capable of being committed to memory - with no reduction of safety (TMMPPFFISHH?). Old fashioned, complex aircraft have to have checklists because there is too much to reliably remember. For modern aircraft (& I'm not talking about relics like the 737) an airborne checklist is probably not required (because there are so few items) but few have the guts to say so! Why? Because I'm expected to remember 19 Memory checklists and spew them out at times of high stress, I can surely remember the eight items (three lists) that make up the entire airborne checklist.
The reason a checklist is used is to confirm that everything that needs to be done actually has been done. I'll not argue that those responsible for executing complex procedures or those rarely used need a checklist to ensure procedural compliance. However, I will argue that simple a simple checklists like our After Take-off checklist (Gear - UP, Flaps - 0) could and should be committed to memory.
The reason for this is that a Mk I human may start treating simple the normal checklist with contempt because of its simplicity. Once complacency sets in, the next set of checklist are the abnormals and emergency checklists. And these are vital to ensure a safe outcome following a non-standard/irregular event.
However, no matter what my opinion, I'll use a checklist at work because I'm paid to do so. Privately, I never used a checklist for normal operations.