think a RAT is a good thing to have on
any flight, so it became FRAT.
What the FRAT does is list the
significant risks identified for any
flight and then assigns an arbitrary
number to that specific risk. If the total
risk assessment is higher than your
predetermined acceptable risk level,
you need to do something to mitigate
or eliminate the risks before takeoff.
For the past several months I have
been using the SMS developed by
online flight planner FltPlan.com.
That SMS is easy to customize to suit
the wide variety of types of flying, and
the system is online so there is no
paper to fill out or file. You can access
it from any computer or device that
gets you online, and the information
remains on FltPlan.com’s servers.
For my trip to Savannah, filling out
the FRAT became more than a routine
exercise because it was not an ordinary
day. The first section of the FRAT deals
with the condition of the pilot or crew.
For example, if the pilot has fewer than
200 hours time in type, that scores a
big 5 on the risk scale. An industry
standard for recent experience is at
least 100 hours of flying in the past
three months. If you don’t meet that
threshold it scores 3 more risk points.
A duty day longer than 12 hours is 4
risk points. Pilot rest time less than 10
hours before the flight is 5 points.
The key to using a FRAT
successfully is to customize it to your
own style of flying so that only unusual
risks, the risks that you may not have
considered, are highlighted. For
example, because SMS is moving down
from big airplane flying, most FRATs
start out assigning a high risk of 5 to
single-pilot flying. If you fly without a
copilot nearly all of the time as most of
us do, then you have already
considered that risk and have accepted
it, so it’s not new for any one flight.
The same can be true for recent
experience. I don’t fly more than 400
hours a year as I used to, so I need to
flag my own level of recent experience
on the FRAT, not the baseline 100
hours every three months. Same for a
crew-only flight. The accident record
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