The checklist that chacks

Not all checklists look like a paper with boxes. There are ones that chack.

The checklist that chacks

Checklists come in many forms. In a previous similar article, the checklist resembled a wrist device. This time, it will look like a box. Its creator is also associated with flights, but this time it’s not a space traveler but an aviation pilot.

Pilots are the most well-known users of checklists. I took a somewhat critical view of the attributed invention of the phenomenon in one of my posts. Nevertheless, the minds of these brave individuals never rest, and they keep inventing improved forms of the familiar tool.

Some time ago, I was browsing Reddit in search of communities where people use checklists. In the r/flying community, I found a topic with an intriguing title, "Checklist Box" switch checklists. The main post in the topic contained a link to a video advertising a checklist. How can one advertise a checklist?! Well, one can even sell them.

The checklist sold by Missionary Bush Pilot is designed to help pilots perform critically necessary actions before takeoff on the ground and before landing in the air. The checklist itself looks like this.

The switch on the left side of the case turns the backlight on and off. The switches on the front are not connected to anything with wires. They serve as an information radiator for the pilot. An information radiator is a term from Agile software development inspired by Lean manufacturing. In the book Agile Software Development [1], where it was first defined, it is described as follows:

An information radiator displays information in a place where passersby can see it. With information radiators, the passersby don’t need to ask questions; the information simply hits them as they pass.

Before preparing for takeoff, all the switches on the front panel of the checklist are down. As the mandatory actions are performed, the pilot switches them up. If something distracts the pilot, a quick glance at the switches will indicate which items are still incomplete. This instant status update of readiness for flight is what makes the box an information radiator.

Why is this checklist more convenient than a regular paper one, where items are checked off with a pencil? On the ground, the advantages might not be so obvious, except that the checklist box is reusable, while a regular checklist needs to be either erased or discarded.

Imagine the plane is in the air. Juggling a pencil and a sheet is not so convenient, as you need to control the machine. With this device, it is enough to flick a switch to “mark” the completion of a necessary action. Even if you are distracted by a passing dragon, nothing will fall out of your hands. You can recall the readiness status for landing with a quick glance at the checklist box.

This is how the Buddy Check looks above the aircraft's instrument panel at night

Do you know any unusual types of lists or checklists? Write to me! I would love to learn about them.

List of References:

[1] Alistair Cockburn, “Agile Software Development”, ISBN 978-0-201-69969-9