Situational awareness is the accurate perception and understanding of all the factors and conditions within the four fundamental risk elements that affect safety before, during, and after the flight. To maintain situational awareness, a pilot needs to understand the relative significance of these factors and their future impact on the flight. When a pilot is situationally aware, he or she has an overview of the total operation.
Some obstacles to maintaining situational awareness include (but are not limited to) fatigue, stress, and work overload; complacency; and classic behavioral traps such as the drive to meet or exceed flight goals. Situational awareness depends on the ability to switch rapidly between a number of different, and possibly competing, information sources and tasks while maintaining a collective view of the environment. Experienced pilots are better able to interpret a situation because of their base of experience, but newer pilots can compensate for lack of experience with the appropriate fundamental core competencies acquired during initial and recurrent flight training. SRM training helps the pilot maintain situational awareness, which enables the pilot to assess and manage risk and make accurate and timely decisions. To maintain situational awareness, all of the skills involved in ADM are used.