What is PM in Aviation? (Pilot Monitoring)

Pilot monitoring (PM) in aviation refers to the role of the second pilot or the first officer in an aircraft. While the pilot flying (PF) is responsible for physically flying the aircraft, the pilot monitoring’s primary responsibility is to assist and support the pilot flying by closely monitoring the flight parameters, systems, and procedures. The pilot monitoring plays a crucial role in maintaining situational awareness, detecting errors or deviations, and preventing potential accidents or incidents during the flight.

The Role of Pilot Monitoring

The pilot monitoring’s role can vary depending on various factors such as the type of aircraft, the phase of flight, and the specific airline procedures. However, some common responsibilities of the pilot monitoring include:

The Monitoring of Flight Instruments

One of the primary tasks of the pilot monitoring is to continuously monitor the flight instruments during the entire flight. This includes keeping an eye on the altitude, airspeed, heading, vertical speed, and other vital flight parameters. By cross-checking the flight instruments and comparing them to the expected values, the pilot monitoring can quickly identify any discrepancies or errors.

For example, if the altitude on the altimeter does not match the expected altitude based on the assigned clearance, the pilot monitoring can promptly bring it to the attention of the pilot flying. This ensures that the aircraft maintains the correct altitude and avoids any potential conflicts with other aircraft or airspace restrictions.

The pilot monitoring also plays a crucial role in monitoring the engine instruments, such as the engine parameters, fuel quantity, and oil pressure. By closely monitoring these instruments, the pilot monitoring can detect any abnormal variations or indications that require immediate attention or action.

Communication and Callouts

Another important responsibility of the pilot monitoring is to assist in communication with air traffic control (ATC) and other aircraft. This involves reading back clearances, relaying information to the pilot flying, and making necessary radio calls. By sharing the workload of radio communication, the pilot monitoring allows the pilot flying to focus more on flying the aircraft safely.

Additionally, the pilot monitoring is responsible for making callouts based on specific procedures or events. For example, during the final approach, the pilot monitoring may make callouts to indicate the remaining altitude or distance to the runway threshold. These callouts help the pilot flying to maintain awareness of the aircraft’s position and adhere to the correct approach profile.

The Importance of Pilot Monitoring

The role of pilot monitoring is crucial in aviation for several reasons:

Enhanced Situational Awareness

By closely monitoring the flight instruments and systems, the pilot monitoring plays a vital role in maintaining situational awareness. Situational awareness refers to the understanding of the current flight conditions, position, and any potential hazards or deviations. With the pilot monitoring actively involved in monitoring and cross-checking, the flight crew can identify any issues promptly and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of the flight.

The presence of a pilot monitoring also provides an additional layer of redundancy and error-checking. In case the pilot flying misses any important information or makes an error, the pilot monitoring can catch it and rectify the situation before it escalates into a safety-critical event.

Effective Crew Resource Management

Pilot monitoring contributes to effective crew resource management (CRM) in the cockpit. CRM focuses on utilizing all available resources, including human, technological, and organizational, to ensure safe and efficient flight operations. By actively participating in CRM, the pilot monitoring can help share the workload with the pilot flying, enhance communication, and improve decision-making processes.

Effective CRM is especially important during high-workload phases of flight, such as takeoff, landing, and during emergencies. By having two pilots actively engaged in monitoring and decision-making, the flight crew can reduce the chances of errors, enhance coordination, and effectively manage any unexpected situations.

The Training and Qualifications of Pilot Monitoring

Pilots who serve as pilot monitoring undergo specialized training to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge. The exact training requirements and qualifications may vary across different aviation authorities and airlines, but some common aspects include:

Initial and Recurrent Training

Pilots receive initial training during their flight training programs, where they learn the basics of operating as both the pilot flying and the pilot monitoring. This includes understanding the flight instruments, systems, and standard operating procedures.

After completing initial training, pilots undergo recurrent training at regular intervals to ensure their proficiency and knowledge. These recurrent training sessions focus on practicing emergency procedures, CRM skills, and the specific procedures of the airline they are employed with.

Experience and Qualifications

Before being assigned as a pilot monitoring, pilots generally accumulate a significant amount of experience as a pilot flying. This experience allows them to develop a deep understanding of aircraft systems, procedures, and decision-making processes.

Additionally, pilots may be required to undergo specific qualification programs conducted by their airline or aviation authority. These programs assess the pilots’ competence in performing the duties of a pilot monitoring and ensure they meet the required standards set by the industry.

Pilot monitoring is a critical role in aviation that contributes to safe and efficient flight operations. By closely monitoring flight instruments, systems, and actively participating in communication and decision-making, the pilot monitoring assists the pilot flying in ensuring a smooth and incident-free flight.

For more information on pilot monitoring and its role in aviation, you can visit FAA’s website.

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