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PAVE is an acronym for a checklist used in aviation - specifically, in Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) - intended to help pilots assess risk. It is recommended by the FAA and will probably show up on your oral exam for your final check ride. Essentially, at every major point in flight planning or flying - preflight, pre-takeoff, midflight (hourly if it's long enough), pre-descent, and just prior to entering the traffic pattern (for VFR) or the final approach fix (for IFR). The items are:

  • P - Pilot-in-command. Is the pilot physically and mentally capable of performing the required tasks (see IM SAFE)? Is the pilot legally able to do so (is the pilot current with all requirements such as flight reviews and landings/takeoffs within the prescribed period, for example)?
  • A - Aircraft. Is the aircraft capable and ready for flight, as far as its condition, its capabilities, and its available equipment and legal requirements?
  • V - enVironment. Terrain, weather hazards, all destination or stopover as well as alternate airports - are they available? Does the pilot have the requisite information about their runways, frequencies, obstacles, current NOTAMs, etc?
  • E - External factors. Are any of your passengers in distress? Are they affecting your flight - pushing you to reach your destination or causing you any distraction? Are you worried about making rendezvous with others at your destination and concerned with being late? Are you worried about other things not related to flying that might distract you?

ADM is one of those things that the books tell you will save lives, and I don't doubt it. It's rather heavyweight, however - and can sometimes impose the very stresses it warns against, as the pilot struggles to remember the methods and information required to carry out the appropriate checks. Remember to find out what works for you - if you need to print out a card with these acronyms on it and keep it in the cockpit to consult, do so. Whatever you can do to lower your stress level and manage your workflow in the air will make you safer, and performing the checks will help you recognize danger before it becomes imminent.