Whiskey & Guns / Risk Management In Flying and Title Insurance


Flying With Minimum Risk

The continuous stream of radio chatter crackled in my headsets. On hyper-multi-task I mentally ran the cockpit flows. Altitude indicator set, barometric pressure two niner niner two, turn coordinator checked, HSI bug set to wind direction for taxi, VOR set to localizer, frequency checked, code cross-checked.

The next radio call was for me, “Shuttle one, there are four ahead of you for take-off, would you like an intersection departure?”

Ground Control was making me an offer.

Should I take the intersection departure and reduce my hold time on the ground? Or should I reject the offer, take the twelve-minute penalty, and improve my odds of being able to handle an emergency should one come up during the take-off roll?

There’s a lot to consider.

Am I on time? Am I in a hurry? Is there someone on-board that has a time critical issue? How much fuel am I carrying? The engine is still burning fuel on the ground. Twelve minutes on the ground is twelve minutes I don’t have in the air. Is the cost of fuel an issue?
In the late 90’s I flew traffic watch. There were more than a few times when the radio traffic reporter would show up late. They’d jump in the airplane with only a few minutes before their first report was due for broadcast. We’d have no time to spare on the ground. An intersection departure might be a welcomed job saver under those circumstances.

Let’s look at the other side.

If the airplane fails during the take-off roll, having less runway means less time and distance to assess the problem and stop the airplane before running out of runway, or worse, having no other choice but to execute the take-off and carrying the problem airborne.

How much risk are you willing to accept?

I tell my flight students, “Life is all about the odds.” What are the odds you’ll be struck by lightning?  (Your Odds) Considering your age, appearance, socioeconomic status and place of residence (meaning how many available potential partners live within ten miles of you), what are the odds you’ll marry? Divorce? Get hit by a car? Catch a cold? Most importantly right now, while taxiing an airplane for take-off, what are the odds you’ll encounter a problem during the take-off phase of this flight? (crash stats)

I’m in the business of risk management. But so are you – everyday!

After leaving the airline I migrated to Title Insurance. In a lot of respects the two enterprises are similar. An airlines primary responsibility is the safe carriage of passengers and cargo. That’s – safety. Comfort and being on time, in-flight movies and wifi, are all secondary to safety.
A Title Insurance Company’s primary responsibility is the assurance there won’t be any defendable claims against a property. Most people don’t understand this but a Title company’s greatest expense goes into making sure there won’t be an issue against the Title of a property before agreeing to insure it. It’s only after doing extensive Title searches and making corrections to a property Title will a Title company insure the property.
It makes sense. If you’re going to insure against something, in other words if you’re going to accept those odds, why not do your due diligence to mitigate the risk of having to pay out on a claim? In other words, why not improve your odds of being right?
Both of my jobs are steeped in risk management. But you manage your own risk everyday. What’s your personal level of risk? Do you drink whiskey and then shoot guns?  No?  But you might speed in a car? Do you jump off cliff’s into unknown waters? Do you smoke? Sometimes we have to take risks in life in order to live. Do you think about the risks you take when you take them?

Back to the cockpit.

If I take the full length of the runway I’m going to experience a twelve-minute ground delay, accepting all the bad stuff that goes with it.   If I take the intersection departure I’ll cut that bad stuff out but I’ll also decrease the odds of getting the aircraft stopped on the runway should something go wrong. The airport is surrounded by houses. There just aren’t a lot of places to land once the runway is behind you in the big city. And I’m afraid of fire.
I cracked the mic switch open and made my decision, “Shuttle one: we’ll accept the wait for the full length.”
I’m one of those guys who will accept a manageable risk but I won’t take on a risk I could easily mitigate. I want to set the odds in my favor whenever possible. I want the full length of the runway when it’s available to me. And I want my Title Insurance to come from a reputable company, because my house is the largest investment I have, second only to my own life and the lives of those who trust me to fly them in an airplane.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.



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3 responses to “Whiskey & Guns / Risk Management In Flying and Title Insurance

  1. Spot on. Flying, title insurance an so many other aspects of life in general are all about risk management and simple economics. We constantly ask ourselves of the benefits outweigh the costs. Sometimes we decide they are. And sometimes, especially when consequences ca be great, we decide to wait for the longer runway.

    Nice post.

  2. Pingback: Flying Scared « Life's Flight Plan

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