In aviation, a preflight checklist is a list of tasks that should be performed by pilots and aircrew prior to takeoff. Its purpose is to improve flight safety by ensuring that no important tasks are forgotten. Failure to correctly conduct a preflight check using a checklist is a major contributing factor to aircraft accidents.
Following a checklist would have shown that the gust lock was engaged on the Gulfstream IV crash on May 31, 2014. The National Transportation Safety Board downloaded data from the aircraft's recorder and found it was a habit: 98% of the previous 175 takeoffs were made with incomplete flight-control checks. The National Business Aviation Association analyzed 143,756 flights in 2013-2015 by 379 business aircraft and only partial flight-control checks were done before 15.6% of the takeoffs and no checks at all on 2.03% of the flights.
According to researcher and writer Atul Gawande, the concept of a pre-flight checklist was first introduced by management and engineers at Boeing Corporation following the 1935 crash of the prototype Boeing B-17 (then known as the Model 299) at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, killing both pilots. Investigation found that the pilots had forgotten to disengage the crucial gust locks (devices which stop control surfaces moving in the wind while parked) prior to take-off. Life magazine published the resulting lengthy and detailed B-17 checklist in its 24 August 1942 issue.
- Degani, Asaf; Wiener, Earl L. (1 June 1993). "Cockpit Checklists: Concepts, Design, and Use". Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 35 (2): 345–359. doi:10.1177/001872089303500209. ISSN 0018-7208. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- William Garvey (Nov 25, 2016). "A Gulfstream Crash Triggers A Finding Of Unsettling Data". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
- "Cockpit Conversation". Life. 1942-08-24. p. 65. Retrieved November 20, 2011.