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What Is Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM)?

       According to the FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, “aeronautical decision-making (ADM) is decision-making in a unique environment - aviation. It is a systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. It is what a pilot intends to do based on the latest information he or she has.” 

       ADM skills are vital to the safe operation of aircraft. Pilot training and resources, as well as aircraft equipment and systems are constantly improving, yet accidents in aviation still occur. It is estimated that approximately eighty percent of aviation accidents are due to human factors with roughly 47% of accidents occurring during takeoff or landing. 

       The purpose behind ADM is to provide a systematic approach to manage risks, workload, and stress. One large way in which aircraft accidents can be avoided is by seeking to understand what factors influence decisions, and constantly working to improve the process of decision-making. 

       When practiced effectively, ADM enables a pilot to operate aircraft with minimal risks associated with the flight. The concept of ADM was first introduced in training programs by the airline industry over 25 years ago to reduce accidents due to human factors. 

       In sync with ADM, crew resource management (CRM) was also developed for flight crews. According to the FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, CRM for flight crews “is focused on the effective use of all available resources: Human Resources, hardware, and information supporting ADM to facilitate crew cooperation and improve decision-making.” Both ADM and CRM should be used by flight crews to facilitate good decision-making.

       Research from the airline industry prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop current regulations that require ADM to be taught as part of the pilot training curriculum.  

       Good decision-making skills can be taught. In the early years when ADM manuals were still being developed, pilots who had received ADM-training made 10-50% fewer in-flight judgment errors compared to those who had not received ADM training.

Pilots who use good ADM use the following steps to enhance the decision-making process and increase the probability of a safe flight:

  1. Identifying personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight
  2. Learning behavior modification techniques 
  3. Learning how to recognize and cope with stress 
  4. Developing risk assessment skills 
  5. Using all resources 
  6. Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills


By Engine Sales Representative, Joshua Denton

[Editor’s Note]: Image taken from the FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. 



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