Key Decision Points (KDPs)
There are six Key Decision Points (KDPs) that are to be communicated in every flight. These KDPs will assist pilots in making the right decisions at the right time, and initiate the right actions! These six KDPs are listed below.
KDP1 ‘Are we going to go - Go/ No- Go Decision’
KDP1 assists pilots in making the ‘GO/ No- Go’ decision. This decision is to be made based on many considerations. The weather conditions for the aerodrome of departure, en-route, and at the destination needs to be considered. Weather forecasts and reports, observations, and pilot reports are all useful resources. In terms of weather, both legal minima, as well as personal limitations should be taken into account. Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) and evening civil twilight (ECT) are some of the other considerations that need attention. Also, serviceability of the aircraft will affect the ‘GO/ No- Go’ decision. A thorough pre- flight should be carried out prior to each flight. If any system fault is detected, terminate the flight as the aircraft is unserviceable. In addition, pilots are required to be responsible for their fitness to fly on any given day. Make sure the IM SAFE checklist is carried out before each flight. These are some of the considerations prior to flight.
KDP2- ‘Are we going to take off - Take Off Decision’
KDP2 involves the pilot making the decision whether to take off for a flight or not. The decision to proceed with the take off is made after determining that the aircraft is fully serviceable and ready for flight in all respects, the engine is functioning correctly, the prevailing weather conditions are within the prescribed limits, the crew has been briefed and a take off clearance has been obtained. The windsock should also be checked prior to departure. The length of the active runway and its service condition should be adequate for the type of aircraft taking off. Check for any obstacles on the runway, and ensure that the aircraft’s climb performance be sufficient to clear any obstacles within its flight path. Both twin and single engine climb performance should be taken into account. If any of those elements have not been determined or completed the decision must be not to proceed.
KDP3- ‘Are we going to continue or divert - Mid Point Decision’
KDP3 involves the flight crew making a call whether to continue, to divert, or to return to departure aerodrome. This decision is to be made about half way along route. En- route and destination weather, technical status of the aircraft, Air Traffic Control (ATC), and condition of the passengers and flight crew are all contributing factors to this decision. The safety of the passengers and aircraft should always be first priority, and should be the biggest contributing factor to this decision.
KDP4- ‘Top of Descent (TOD) are we going to descend - Descent Decision’
Before descending, make a decision on whether it is suitable to descend. Considerations here are elements like the weather below which you will be descending into, descent below minimum safe altitude (MSA), and other limitations for the route, such as Route Operating Limitations (ROL). The Pilot In Command (PIC) should always consult his co- pilot before making the final decision.
KDP5- ‘are we going to commence the approach - Approach Decision’
A stabilised approach is one of the key features of a safe approach and landing. A stabilised approach is characterised by a constant-angle, constant-rate descent approach profile. If at any time during an approach there is doubt that any element of the stable approach can be achieved or maintained, the approach should be discontinued. Hence it is crucial to plan well ahead. Any considerations such arrival route, speed and altitude restrictions, step down fixes (if applicable), present weather conditions and DH, DA, MDH, or MDA as appropriate, approach speed / wind conditions, landing flap setting (if variable), missed approach procedure and altitude, and terrain and obstructions should all be taken into account when considering the approach. Runway condition, runway length, critical conditions resulting from factors such as high landing weight, degraded runway surface friction, crosswind also need to be considered. The approach briefing should be completed prior to commencing the approach. The briefing should be given with reference to the applicable approach procedure published in the AIP. All these factors will constitute to a safe approach.
KDP6- ‘Are we going to land- Landing Decision’
Landing decision involves deciding whether the aircraft is on speed, on slope and whether it is fully configured in the appropriate landing configuration. Also, that there is no other traffic on the active runway, and that if the runway is clear with no obstructions. The windsock should also be checked for the wind strength and if the use of crosswind technique is required. All the checklists should have been completed before the final decision to land. If ever in doubt, commence a go- around.
As they always say that “A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill”!