The decision making process is a logical approach to decision making. A more natural human tendency might be to react to a problem with what seems like a good corrective action. If the problem continues to exist, there is a tendency to repeat the same corrective action over and over. A logical decision making process involves evaluating the situation in a systematic way, in order to solve problems more consistently and in a timely manner.

The First Step - Identify the Problem

Identifying the problem begins with realizing that something happened differently than you expected. Again, situational awareness is critical. Be aware of your position relative to your environment and the status of your systems. Make sure you are perceiving things as they are, not as you expect them to be. Making this mistake is very common and can delay or stop your detection of a problem. Once an initial determination of the problem has been made, attempt to verify that you are correct by checking anything that might act as a secondary indication.

Second Step - Choosing a Course of Action

After you have determined what you think the problem is, the next step is to decide the best way to handle that problem. You are the authority when making this decision. All of your resources are there to support you in the course of action you decide upon.

Third Step - Implementing the Decision and Evaluating the Outcome

If the course of action is not producing the expected outcome, consider what other problems might exist. You may have incorrectly identified the problem. Maybe you do not have a complete picture of the situation. The explanation is likely straight forward, but can be difficult to see, especially when under stress. The outcome of the chosen course of action provides important insight into the nature of the problem, or verifies that the problem has been handled correctly. Once the problem is fixed, think of any limitations that will result from your actions. Plan ahead on how to deal with any complications that may come up as the flight progresses as a result of the problem that occurred.


The decide acronym is a tool to aid a pilot in remembering these logical steps when handling a problem.

  • D - Detect that a problem exists
  • E - Estimate what is needed to handle this problem
  • C - Choose what you need to change to get the desired result
  • I - Identify which action to take
  • D Do take the action you have decided upon
  • E - Evaluate your decision. You should be seeing the desired result.