So you are in a flight department without any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you want some, but have no idea where to begin. Well let's try starting at the beginning! No, on second thought, let's start at the middle!

— James Albright





I've written a complete set of SOPs that was used by a management company I used to work for, has since been adopted by many other companies, and is currently in use at my company. These SOPs have been through countless audits, so they have been vetted. The only problem is that they are written for my operation, not yours. But you can easily adapt them.

There are eleven chapters and you might be best off by starting somewhere other than the first chapter, which is helpfully called Chapter Zero. But it would be a good idea to skim through everything: An SOP Starter Pack. Each chapter contains a presentation of the material, ideas on where to start, how to start, and a Microsoft Word Document file you can customize for you operation.

1 — Why this chapter matters

2 — SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

3 — The chapter itself

4 — Where to start

5 — How to start

6 — Word file



Why this chapter matters

There are countless aircraft accidents over the years where the lack of standardized call outs were listed as causal to the accident. Had the crews used call outs or had their call outs been standardized to the point each pilot on the flight deck understood something wasn't right, the accident could have been avoided.

In many cases there are more than one way to have an effective call out. But the call outs need to be standardized to help pilots not only anticipate the timing of the calls but to also realize that an absent call could mean something is not right.

It could be that your manufacturer has provided you with all the call outs you need, which is unlikely. But if that is the case, simply stating "call outs are in accordance with the ____ AFM" should be enough.


SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

The International Civil Aviation Administration (ICAO) dictates how things happen in aviation worldwide, with exceptions permitted within a country's airspace. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has made quite a few exceptions, but has been working over the years to whittle those down in number. Even if you never venture outside the sovereign airspace of your country, ICAO rules will impact you at some point.

If you fly internationally, you will need a Safety Management System (SMS). Even if only fly domestically, you may find that an SMS is required by your operator or your insurance broker. You will definitely find that SMS will improve how you fly.

One of the ways you can demonstrate your adherence to SMS and other best practices is to get inspected by an approved auditor, such as the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), who can measure you against the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO).

This chapter includes references to ICAO Annexes, which are the regulations that cover international aviation. Among the references throughout this chapter:

  • "NX6" — Annex 6: Operation of Aircraft


The chapter itself

Note: I have used "Acme Corp" as the company name. Unless that is your company's name, you should substitute your company's name wherever you see Acme Corp.

11 Standard Callouts

11.1 General

Callouts are generally made by the PM but are sometimes required of the PF or the first pilot to become aware of a requirement. Whenever a callout is missed, the other pilot can make the call out or query the responsible pilot with the question, “Call out?” Pilots need not make individual callouts which are made by an automated system, such as EGPWS, which makes the specific call out. Where a conflict exists, the AFM/AOM has precedence.

Callouts are listed below.

Callouts shown in “Bold Text”. Actions shown with bullets (•) in plain text.



Where to start

This can be a controversial topic but there may be regulatory requirements to consider. Some callouts in your aircraft AFM could be mandatory while others are optional. Some callouts considered mandatory by your training vendor may not be required at all. Confusing. Here's my take: Callouts.


How to start

With each chapter it is a good idea to:

  1. Talk it over with your team, get their ideas on how to best accomplish the chapter's goals given your unique situation. All ideas are worth considering, write them down in a way the person offering it agrees fully captures the idea.
  2. Give the team time to digest the proposals.
  3. Ask the people with the right background to massage the ideas into concise concepts, then have your best wordsmith turn those concepts into paragraphs. The paragraphs need to be in plain spoken sentences, easy to read, and written at the fifth grade level of comprehension.
  4. Present the ideas to the group. Listen to any objections and seek consensus. Repeat the entire process if needed, but understand that the person in charge will eventually make a decision that becomes department policy. At the very least, stress that each policy can be tested on a trial basis and looked at again in the future.


Word file

You can download a Microsoft Word "docx" file of this chapter here: Acme Corp Operations Manual Chapter 11 - Call Outs.

Remember, this is your blank canvas to customize as you see fit.