PAVE Checklist

The applicant will apply the PAVE checklist to the scenario.

The applicant will apply the PAVE checklist to the scenario.

Another way to mitigate risk is to perceive hazards. By incorporating the PAVE checklist into preflight planning, the pilot divides the risks of flight into four categories: Pilot-in-command (PIC), Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures (PAVE) which form part of a pilot’s decision-making process.

P = Pilot in Command (PIC)

The pilot is one of the risk factors in a flight. The pilot must ask, “Am I ready for this trip?” in terms of experience, recency, currency, physical, and emotional condition. The IMSAFE checklist provides the answers.

A = Aircraft

What limitations will the aircraft impose upon the trip? Ask the following questions:

  1. Is this the right aircraft for the flight?
  2. Am I familiar with and current in this aircraft? Aircraft performance figures and the AFM are based on a brand new aircraft flown by a professional test pilot. Keep that in mind while assessing personal and aircraft performance.
  3. Is this aircraft equipped for the flight? Instruments? Lights? Navigation and communication equipment adequate?
  4. Can this aircraft use the runways available for the trip with an adequate margin of safety under the conditions to be flown?
  5. Can this aircraft carry the planned load?
  6. Can this aircraft operate at the altitudes needed for the trip?
  7. Does this aircraft have sufficient fuel capacity, with reserves, for trip legs planned?
  8. Does the fuel quantity delivered match the fuel quantity ordered?

V = EnVironment


Weather is a major environmental consideration. Earlier it was suggested pilots set their own personal minimums, especially when it comes to weather. As pilots evaluate the weather for a particular flight, they should consider the following:

• What is the current ceiling and visibility? In mountainous terrain, consider having higher minimums for ceiling and visibility, particularly if the terrain is unfamiliar.

• Consider the possibility that the weather may be different than forecast. Have alternative plans and be ready and willing to divert, should an unexpected change occur.

• Consider the winds at the airports being used and the strength of the crosswind component.

• If flying in mountainous terrain, consider whether there are strong winds aloft. Strong winds in mountainous terrain can cause severe turbulence and downdrafts and be very hazardous for aircraft even when there is no other significant weather.

• Are there any thunderstorms present or forecast?

• If there are clouds, is there any icing, current or forecast? What is the temperature/dew point spread and the current temperature at altitude? Can descent be made safely all along the route?

• If icing conditions are encountered, is the pilot experienced at operating the aircraft’s deicing or anti-icing equipment? Is this equipment in good condition and functional? For what icing conditions is the aircraft rated, if any?


Evaluation of terrain is another important component of analyzing the flight environment.

• To avoid terrain and obstacles, especially at night or in low visibility, determine safe altitudes in advance by using the altitudes shown on VFR and IFR charts during preflight planning.

• Use maximum elevation figures (MEFs) and other easily obtainable data to minimize chances of an inflight collision with terrain or obstacles.


• What lights are available at the destination and alternate airports? VASI/PAPI or ILS glideslope guidance? Is the terminal airport equipped with them? Are they working? Will the pilot need to use the radio to activate the airport lights?

• Check the Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) for closed runways or airports. Look for runway or beacon lights out, nearby towers, etc.

• Choose the flight route wisely. An engine failure gives the nearby airports supreme importance.

• Are there shorter or obstructed fields at the destination and/or alternate airports?


• If the trip is over remote areas, is there appropriate clothing, water, and survival gear onboard in the event of a forced landing?

• If the trip includes flying over water or unpopulated areas with the chance of losing visual reference to the horizon, the pilot must be prepared to fly IFR.

• Check the airspace and any temporary flight restriction (TFRs) along the route of flight.


Night flying requires special consideration.

• If the trip includes flying at night over water or unpopulated areas with the chance of losing visual reference to the horizon, the pilot must be prepared to fly IFR.

• Will the flight conditions allow a safe emergency landing at night?

• Perform preflight check of all aircraft lights, interior and exterior, for a night flight. Carry at least two flashlights—one for exterior preflight and a smaller one that can be dimmed and kept nearby.

E = External Pressures

External pressures are influences external to the flight that create a sense of pressure to complete a flight—often at the expense of safety. Factors that can be external pressures include the following:

• Someone waiting at the airport for the flight’s arrival

• A passenger the pilot does not want to disappoint

• The desire to demonstrate pilot qualifications

• The desire to impress someone (Probably the two most dangerous words in aviation are “Watch this!”)

• The desire to satisfy a specific personal goal (“get-home-itis,” “get-there-itis,” and “let’s-go-itis”)

• The pilot’s general goal-completion orientation

Emotional pressure associated with acknowledging that skill and experience levels may be lower than a pilot would like them to be. Pride can be a powerful external factor!

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