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Are you fit to fly?

IMSAFE - If you're not safe, I'm not safe

By Lach Boyd

If you haven’t heard of IMSAFE, then you probably shouldn’t be flying yet.

What is it?

Pretty straight forward – it’s a simple self-awareness checklist designed to assess your personal physical and mental state. If you’re not fit to fly, and you decide to go anyway, not only have you reduced the safety margins of your own flight, but also the safety of everyone else around you!

It’s rather easy to identify which individuals fit into either category:

  1. Those that genuinely conduct an IMSAFE check and make an educated self-assessment prior to flight; or
  2. Those that hear an instructor say “IMSAFE” for flight and the response is “yeah yeah yeah, I’m safe.”

If you fit into Category 1, then this is perfect. Keep going with this and don’t let your standards drop.

If you fit into Category 2, then you’re staring down the barrel of negligence. Likely you haven’t actually made a simple attempt of self-assessment. In a high-consequence industry, why wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to increase safety before you’ve left the building?

The aviation community is substantial. Made up of many, whether it be those working in the sky or ATC, those enjoying a joy flight or the enthusiasts up for a private flight. Not to mention the passengers…

You owe it to yourself and your community to do your due diligence.

So, what does IMSAFE look like? 

For me (and what we teach at TVSA, and throughout CASA guidance material), it’s the following:


Am I feeling sick or have I had any recent illnesses?

How your inflight performance is affected will depend on what illness you have. Having a cold or flu, for example, can be hard to manage with changes of altitude. The pressure changes can cause pain in the nasal cavity and, ideally, you wouldn’t fly in that condition.


Am I taking any medication?

Taking any prescription or non-prescription medication can present side-effects (like drowsiness). Not feeling side-effects on ground, does not mean you will not experience them with altitude. The best way to be sure and safe of your medication is to consult your DAME. The CASA website also can provide a list of some permitted and prohibited medications.


Am I under any stress or anxiety?

It is completely normal to experience stress and anxiety. Stress is a regular part of life, and stress in small amounts can actually be beneficial, but above average amounts (as well as too little stress!) can affect us negatively. There are 3 main types of stress to be aware of:

  • Physiological
  • Environmental
  • Psychological

Always analyse your stress levels before flying and try to develop some positive coping mechanisms to deal with them.


How long ago did you have alcohol?

No brainer this one. Whilst CASA have particular legal requirements. It is recommended to not fly for at least 24 hours after alcohol consumption. A hangover can be very dangerous! They’re bad enough on a couch, let alone in a cockpit.


Have I had enough rest?

Fatigue will seriously impair your ability to respond immediately and effectively. Sleep requirements vary from one person to another, so it is important that you know what your body needs. Not enough sleep isn’t the only factor that causes fatigue. Stress is a huge factor also. It will undoubtedly take its toll on you.

My partner and I had our first born child December of 2020. Managing sleep has become really important for us and is always forefront of mind. It’s never going to be easy! 

Eating / Emotions

Am I in the right frame of mind to fly? Have I had a proper meal? Am I hydrated?

Eating enough food before flight can restore energy levels for your body and keep your brain functioning at a high level.

There’s nothing to stop an individual from adding their own self checks before a flight. Everyone knows themselves better than others will. So if you are aware of something that often hinders you during flight, try to find something that will help combat this.

Remember, think about yourself but you also need to think about others.

Safe skies for all. 


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Fuel Caps Secured – Check!


In late July 2019, a TVSA aircraft was inadvertently flown with a missing fuel cap on the right tank. The aircraft was on a solo navigation exercise around the bay and returned to YBSS safely. The following information has been extracted from the reporting that took place following the incident.

Initial Report

Piper style fuel cap located on RWY27 by a TVSA staff member taxiing out for a circuits lesson. Other aircraft in the circuit area contacted over the radio and requested to inspect their fuel caps. It was later determined by staff on the ground that the missing cap belonged to PJX which was on a solo flight around the bay.

Upon return, PIC reported the following:

  • Departed YBSS on the left tank and switched to the right tank prior to arrival at YMMB.
  • Noticed a lower fuel figure than expected in the right tank on departure from YMMB.
  • Switched back to the left tank and continued the planned flight around the bay.
  • Visually identified the missing fuel cap around Pt Lonsdale and made a diversion to return to YBSS.

On landing, the aircraft was met by staff and calculations estimated the aircraft to have lost roughly 10-15L of fuel (based on block fuel burn rates).

Contributing Factors

PIC was an unlicensed pilot and was conducting first flight of the day in the aircraft. As such, a daily inspection conducted by an instructor was required as part of solo sign-out procedure. This was conducted satisfactorily by the staff member, but the aircraft was subsequently refuelled by the student. This resulted in the loose fuel cap not being captured through a pre-flight inspection, as would normally be the case.


  • TVSA procedures adjusted to ensure inspections carried out by instructors for solo students only occurred after refuelling.
  • Staff and students briefed on the importance of thorough pre-flight inspection.
  • ATSB reporting completed.


Thankfully, this incident had a good outcome but could have ended very differently. It highlighted the need for a thorough aircraft inspection, as well as the need to remain alert to possible errors at all times.

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Pilot Recency After Lockdown


As we return to school after the recent COVID-19 lockdown, it is important to consider pilot recency. Many of you will be experiencing the longest break in flying since the start of your training. Whilst it may not be illegal to continue flying, there are certain things to bear in mind.


CASA requirements under Part 61 restrict student pilots from conducting solo flights if they have not conducted a dual flight in the last 30 days or after 3 hours of solo flight. The 3-hour restriction does not apply to those students operating under an approved 150-hour syllabus.

Passenger carrying flights require the pilot to have conducted 3 take-offs and landings in the last 90 days. Lastly, class ratings require a flight review every two years. If a current flight review is held, there are no legal requirements to be met prior to flying alone (under Day VFR) for a pilot who holds a licence.

Additional endorsements and/or ratings may have further requirements, such as an Instrument Rating requiring 3 approaches conducted in the last 90 days. See CASR Part 61 for more information on requirements for your licence and ratings.

Personal Minimums

Even if the legal requirements are not a concern, it might be a good idea to consider applying some personal minimums. Would you really feel comfortable flying solo after 2-3 months off without a check flight?

It’s also important to make sure your documents and equipment are in good working order prior to jumping in the cockpit. Some things to consider before heading to the aerodrome include:

  • Is your medical current?
  • Are your charts/ERSA and other required documents up to date?
  • Is your flight bag stocked up with the necessary items?

Aircraft Maintenance

Finally, consider aircraft maintenance. Has your aircraft been sat on the ground without running for a long period of time? At TVSA, our maintenance team have been keeping the aircraft warm whilst we’ve been at home. In preparation for returning to flights with students, our instructor team have also been doing some flights to make sure the aircraft are fit for service.

Be sure to conduct a thorough pre-flight inspection (as always!). Aircraft that have not been operated in a while can be subject to some of the following issues (among others):

  • low tyre pressures
  • low battery voltage
  • fluid leaks and/or low levels
  • corrosion
  • insects/nests, especially in pitot/static ports
  • rodent damage to wiring
  • birds’ nests
  • dust on airframe and windows

Finally, if you are in any doubt about whether you can return to flying, please get in touch with the team at TVSA who will be more than happy to guide you through the process of getting you back in the air safely.

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Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings

On October 4th, Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (AEDT) begins, with clocks going forward by one hour at 2AM.

This will result in Victoria being 11 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+11), rather than 10 hours (UTC+10) as it is now. This has implications for flying training at TVSA. It is important to remember the difference between local time and UTC when planning flights for several reasons.

Daylight Available

Those of you who have completed the CPL Navigation theory subject may remember the pain of converting between Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), and Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (AEDT). Depending on your planned route, your daylight available could be more or less than expected. Let’s have a look at a simple example using Bacchus Marsh:

YBSS 3/10/20

First Light – 021928 UTC = 030528 AEST

Last Light – 030854 UTC = 031854 AEST

YBSS 4/10/20

First Light – 031926 UTC = 040526 AEST / 040626 AEDT

Last Light – 040855 UTC = 041855 AEST / 041955 AEDT

We can see from the above conversions for First Light and Last Light at YBSS that if we were to forget the change on the 4th to UTC+11, we might be expecting to be able to depart in daylight an hour earlier than we actually could, or not use the daylight to our full advantage, and accidentally plan to return home an hour earlier than we needed to.

This becomes slightly more complicated when crossing borders into states/countries that are in different time zones. Queensland, whilst on the same time zone as Victoria for most of the year, does not recognize daylight savings time, and as such remains on AEST or UTC+10.

Departure Time

More obvious is the difference when submitting a flight plan on NAIPS. As flight plans are submitted in UTC, it is important to remember the change in the conversion. A simple example of this is as follows:

On 3rd October, you plan to leave on a flight at 11:30AM. This is equal to 01:30UTC, as the difference is 10hrs. On 4th October, the clocks have gone forward one hour, and now the difference to UTC is 11 hours. If you had submitted your departure time as 01:30UTC, this would now convert to 12:30AEDT.

A simple mistake if you are unaware of the change, but it can have implications on the availability of services or clearances if ATC are not expecting you for another hour. The NAIPS website has a UTC clock at the top of the page to help with conversions, and computer clocks (including smartphones) will usually adjust their clocks automatically to suit. These tools can help you avoid entering the wrong time in your flight plan.


A similar issue occurs when considering SARTIME. Whilst this is a bigger problem when the clocks go backwards at the start of the year, the clocks going forward can also present an issue. Let’s say you submit a SARTIME of 0500 UTC, expecting that to convert to 1500 AEST. In actual fact, it converts to 1600 AEDT. If the worst was to happen and you had to conduct a forced landing, your SARTIME would expire an hour after you expected it to, which may delay search and rescue services.

If we reverse this and consider the clocks going backwards an hour at the start of the year, we can see that SARTIMEs nominated under the assumption of an 11 hour difference would actually expire an hour earlier than expected. This results in lots of expired SARTIMEs countrywide and it is an expensive drain on the resources of AUSSAR.

A Safety Notice will be posted to FSM to ensure that you are reminded of the time difference when you log in for the first time after daylight savings commences. If you have any questions about the impact of daylight savings on flying training, please see your instructor, or the Safety Manager, Daniel Hadler.

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COVID-19 Update – 21st July


If you are not aware, Premier Dan Andrews announced that face coverings are now mandatory from 2359 tomorrow, Wednesday 22nd July, for all residents living in Melbourne or Mitchell Shire.

In line with these government guidelines, face masks will be required to be worn onsite at TVSA Pilot Training by all staff and students.

Whilst TVSA is based in rural Victoria, many of our staff and students travel from Melbourne to our campus each day. Due to this, our Safety Team feels that it is necessary for the protection of all that everybody is to wear a face mask regardless of where they reside.

We have made a limited amount of disposable face masks available at reception, but we recommend that you purchase reusable masks that are washed between visits.

Also, we want to remind the public that only staff and students who have flight bookings are allowed on-campus. All classrooms are closed and unavailable for private study, please ensure that you are only at TVSA for the time of your flight booking.

When you are on-campus, please remember to sign in when you arrive and sign out when you leave so we have an accurate record of who is here at any given time for contact tracing purposes if necessary.

Once again, we have closed enrolments to all private training, including but not limited to Recreational and Private Pilot Licence training, Trial Introductory Flights, and Flight Reviews. To stay up today with when we can recommence this training, please follow us on Facebook.

As always, our Safety and Management Team are reviewing our current COVID-19 Safety Policy on a regular basis and will provide updates when changes occur.

If you have any questions, please contact us at or call us on 03 5369 5162.