Episode 61. Safety theory and restoring a Cessna 172, with Sidney Dekker

Sidney Dekker in Carbon CubAs a professor, Sidney Dekker has spent his career studying safety processes in industries like healthcare and mining. As a pilot, both for an airline and in his Carbon Cub, he has put those theories into practice. In this thought-provoking episode, you'll hear what he's learned, including: how much risk pilots can actually quantify, why we should study what went right and not just what went wrong, and what it means to drift into failure. You'll also learn about the beat up Cessna 172 he restored, whether autopilots are a positive or negative for safety, whether pilots should read accident reports, and what an "automation surprise" is.  


  • “Precisely because we cannot define all the risks in advance… ask yourself, ‘what is it I’m not doing? What haven’t I looked at?’”
  • “The fact that you were successful so far says absolutely nothing in a dynamic, changing world.”
  • “Safer pilots are the ones who do it more often.”
  • “As long as you keep measuring your success by the absence of negative events, you risk drifting into failure.”
  • “People on the line don’t make bad choices, they have bad choices. They are given bad choices.”
  • “Looking out over the unpeopled world from the surround windows of a 172 is actually an astounding privilege.”
  • “On the autopilot, you might be selecting, but that’s the menu. What is actually on your plate is in the mode annunciator on top of your primary flight display.”  

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