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Lessons From Pilots

I am treading on dangerous territory because I am about to discuss plane crashes. I say dangerous because I don’t like to fly; which also means that I don’t enjoy plane crash thoughts. So, you can already be assured that this is a positive blog. I promise promise!

Studies of plane crashes between 1940-1990 always showed the same statistic. 65% of the time, airplane crashes were due to pilot error. It didn’t matter what the airlines did.

They increased pilot classroom training. They implemented aviation reforms. They required specific flying hour limitations. Still, no matter what the airlines did, bad decisions in the cockpit still caused crashes 65% of the time.

Then that statistic changed! In the late 1980’s, airlines introduced realistic flight simulators. Now pilots could practice landing in a sudden downdraft thunderstorm, or with only one engine. They could learn what it was like to land a plane with landing gear problems; or fly without wing flaps.

Their experience of problems was better than training by “chalk and talk”. They were doing, even though it was by simulator. Federal Aviation representatives labeled it as “the goal is to learn from those mistakes when they don’t count; so when it matters, you can make the right decision”.

This training process was coupled with a method called CRM (Cockpit Resource Management), which made flying a team effort to include the other members of the flying team. Soon, pilot error as the cause of crashes had been reduced to 30% of all crashes, which also meant that there were far less crashes. More specifically, it now became safer to fly than drive in a car. See… positive!

I believe that same thought applies to trial work. Experience and team! No matter how many seminars you attend on trial and depositions, nothing replaces actually doing it.

What does this mean at the firm? Well, I always try to make sure that our lawyers have a second chair with them. That’s part of the team concept. Also, it’s experience in the courtroom. It doesn’t mean that we don’t keep attending seminars. That’s the chalk and talk of our work.  Unfortunately, there is no substitute for experience. Right?

And for pic o’ day, this isn’t to mean that I don’t enjoy work. Still…. he makes me laugh!

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