Aeronautical-Decision Making

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.

The importance of learning and understanding effective ADM skills cannot be overemphasized. While progress is continually being made in the advancement of pilot training methods, aircraft equipment and systems, and services for pilots, accidents still occur. Despite all the changes in technology to improve flight safety, one factor remains the same: the human factor which leads to errors. It is estimated that approximately 80 percent of all aviation accidents are related to human factors and the vast majority of these accidents occur during landing (24.1 percent) and takeoff (23.4 percent). [Figure 1]

Aeronautical-Decision Making
Figure 1. The percentage of aviation accidents as they relate to the different phases of flight. Note that the greatest percentage of accidents take place during a minor percentage of the total flight

ADM is a systematic approach to risk assessment and stress management. To understand ADM is to also understand how personal attitudes can influence decision-making and how those attitudes can be modified to enhance safety in the flight deck. It is important to understand the factors that cause humans to make decisions and how the decision-making process not only works, but can be improved.


This section focuses on helping the pilot improve his or her ADM skills with the goal of mitigating the risk factors associated with flight. Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22, “Aeronautical Decision-Making,” provides background references, definitions, and other pertinent information about ADM training in the general aviation (GA) environment. [Figure 2]

Aeronautical-Decision Making
Figure 2. Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22, “Aeronautical Decision Making,” carries a wealth of information for the pilot to learn

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