Taking Flight: Exploring the Shared Benefits of Checklists in Aviation and Business

Adequate preparation and attention to detail are crucial elements for success, whether you’re soaring through the skies or navigating the complexities of business operations.
Preflight Checklist

(Click Picture for Expanded View)

My brother-in-law, Anthony “Sarge” Kiggins, is a retired captain of the US Navy with an illustrious flying career. With his extensive experience as an F-18 Top Gunner, former Alaska Airlines Captain, aircraft owner, and certified flight instructor, Tony is well-versed in planes and checklists. He graciously shared with me the details of a preflight checklist, and as we compared it to a business checklist, we were astounded by the remarkable similarities between the two.

This article explores the intriguing similarities between a preflight plane checklist and business operations, highlighting how both practices emphasize preparedness, risk management, and a systematic approach to achieve successful outcomes.

1. Prioritizing Safety and Risk Management:
In aviation, a preflight plane checklist is a vital tool that pilots use to ensure the safety and airworthiness of the aircraft.

Similarly, business operations require a focus on safety and risk management to safeguard employees, assets, and reputation. Both checklists emphasize the importance of identifying potential risks, implementing mitigation strategies, and ensuring compliance with regulations and industry best practices.

2. Establishing Clear Processes and Protocols:
Both a preflight plane checklist and business operations rely on established processes and protocols for consistent and reliable outcomes.

A pilot follows a well-defined sequence of checks to confirm the aircraft’s readiness, while businesses establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure consistent performance in various areas, such as production, logistics, and customer service. Clear processes minimize errors, improve efficiency, and enhance overall performance.

3. Attention to Detail:
Attention to detail is critical in both a preflight plane checklist and business operations. Pilots meticulously go through each item on the checklist to verify critical systems, fuel levels, and control surfaces.

In business operations, paying attention to detail ensures accurate data entry, quality control, and adherence to customer requirements. By carefully considering all aspects, potential issues can be identified and addressed, leading to smoother operations and better outcomes.

4. Systematic Approach:
Both a preflight plane checklist and business operations follow a systematic approach to ensure comprehensive coverage and minimize oversights. Pilots perform a step-by-step inspection of various aircraft components and systems.

Similarly, businesses rely on systematic processes such as supply chain management, project management, and quality assurance to ensure consistent and reliable outcomes. A systematic approach helps identify potential gaps, streamline operations, and improve overall efficiency.

5. Team Collaboration and Communication:
Both aviation and business operations rely on effective team collaboration and communication. In the aviation industry, the pilot and co-pilot work together to complete the preflight checklist, cross-verifying each other’s actions.

Collaboration and communication among team members, departments, and stakeholders are essential for smooth operations. Effective communication ensures everyone is aligned with goals, tasks, and responsibilities, minimizing misunderstandings and maximizing productivity.

6. Continuous Improvement:
Both a preflight plane checklist and business operations emphasize continuous improvement. Pilots and authorities regularly review lists to incorporate lessons learned and adapt to evolving safety standards.

In business operations, organizations implement performance measurement systems, conduct audits, and encourage feedback to identify areas for improvement and optimize processes. Continuous improvement enhances operational efficiency, drives innovation, and maintains a competitive edge.

While the contexts may differ, the similarities between a preflight plane checklist and business operations highlight the shared principles of preparedness, risk management, attention to detail, systematic approaches, teamwork, and continuous improvement. Incorporating these practices into business operations can help mitigate risks, enhance efficiency, and drive successful outcomes. By recognizing the parallels between these seemingly distinct domains, we can gain valuable insights and apply best practices to navigate the challenges and achieve excellence in both the skies and the world of business operations.

Business Operations Checklist:

1. Inventory Management:
Monitor and track inventory levels to ensure optimal stock levels and avoid stockouts.
Implement inventory control measures to minimize loss, damage, or obsolescence.

2. Supply Chain Management:
Establish relationships with reliable suppliers and ensure timely delivery of goods and services.
Regularly assess and optimize the efficiency of the supply chain process.

3. Quality Assurance:
Implement quality control measures to ensure products or services meet established standards.
Conduct regular inspections and tests to identify and address any quality issues.

4. Financial Management:
Manage cash flow effectively, including monitoring accounts payable and receivable.
Prepare accurate financial statements and perform regular financial analysis.

5. Operational Efficiency:
Identify areas for improvement in operational processes and implement strategies to increase efficiency.
Streamline workflows and eliminate bottlenecks through process optimization.

6.Customer Relationship Management:
Develop strategies for effective customer engagement, retention, and satisfaction.
Monitor customer feedback and implement improvements based on customer insights.

7. IT Infrastructure:
Ensure the reliability and security of IT systems, including regular backups and data protection measures.
Stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and assess their potential benefits for business operations.

8. Regulatory Compliance:
Stay informed about relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.
Implement procedures and documentation to ensure compliance and mitigate legal risks.

9. Human Resources Management:
Recruit and retain qualified staff members.
Provide ongoing training and development opportunities for employees.

10. Continuous Improvement:
Foster a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging employee feedback and implementing suggestions for enhancing business operations
Regularly evaluate and update processes and procedures to adapt to changing market conditions and industry trends.

Pilot Checklist (Preflight):

1. Exterior Inspection:
Verify the general condition of the aircraft, including the fuselage, wings, and control surfaces.
Check for any signs of damage or abnormalities.

2. Interior Inspection:
Ensure the cockpit instruments, controls, and avionics are functioning properly.
Verify the condition of seats, seat belts, and safety equipment.

3. Fuel and Engine Systems:
Check the fuel levels and ensure proper fueling procedures.
Inspect the engine oil and coolant levels and the engine’s overall condition.

4. Flight Control Surfaces:
Test the ailerons, elevators, and rudder for proper movement and control.
Verify the operation of flaps and trim systems.

5. Communication and Navigation Systems:
Check the radio communication equipment for proper functioning.
Test the navigation instruments, including GPS, navigation radios, and transponder.

6. Electrical Systems:
Ensure all electrical systems, including lights, indicators, and circuit breakers, are working correctly.
Verify the battery’s charge and the functionality of backup power sources.

7. Emergency Equipment:
Confirm the presence and functionality of emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers and emergency exits.

8. Documentation:
Verify necessary documents, including the aircraft logbook, pilot’s license, and required permits.

9. Weather Check:
Assess current weather conditions and forecasts, ensuring they are within acceptable limits for safe flight.

10. Final Review and Clearance:
Review the completed checklist and ensure all necessary items have been checked.
Obtain final clearance from air traffic control before proceeding with the flight.

These checklists provide a general overview of the items typically included in a business operations checklist and a pilot’s preflight checklist. However, it’s important to note that specific lists may vary depending on the industry, type of aircraft, and individual company or pilot preferences.

The similarities are the same as both the pilot and the business owner expect a successful landing.

Take Flight on Your Business Checklist


Set up a FREE consultation with a Business Health Matters executive coach.

Call Us Now At727-739-8862

Get a Free Consultation