National Wildfire Coordinating Group

NWCG Aviation Risk Management Workbook, PMS 530-1

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The NWCG Aviation Risk Management Workbook was developed as an inventory of hazards and identified mitigations associated with those hazards. It is an online resource that provides that information in a useable format and provides for timely updates to the information as changes, revisions, and additions are identified by subject matter experts and personnel conducting aviation missions. It can be used to organize and capture Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM) results and should be used in conjunction with the NWCG Standards for Aviation Risk Management, PMS 530. These risk assessments (RAs) are informed by in-depth study of previously conducted missions, activities, associated hazards, and successful mitigations that have helped to reduce the associated risks.

The NWCG Aviation Risk Management Workbook, PMS 530-1, is developed and maintained by the NWCG Aviation Risk Management Subcommittee (ARMS) under the direction of the National Interagency Aviation Committee (NIAC), an entity of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

While previous versions may contain relevant or useful information, previous versions are obsolete. The user of this information is responsible for confirming that they have the most up-to-date version. NWCG is the sole source for the publication.

Comments, questions, and recommendations shall be submitted to the appropriate agency program manager assigned to the ARMS. View the compete roster.

How To Use Workbook


The purpose of assessing hazards is to determine the risk level that the hazards pose so one can determine the need for mitigation and/or whether the mission/activity should continue.  While there are numerous approaches to assess hazards, the RAM is arguably the most simplistic and often used approach.  To assess risk, one needs to know three characteristics of the hazard:

  • Severity – if the hazard results in a mishap, what are the potential consequences?
  • Probability – What is the likelihood that the hazard will result in a mishap?
  • Exposure – how often and/or how many people are in contact with the hazard?

The RAM consolidates the exposure characteristic into the probability evaluation.  In other words, if the number of people exposed to the hazard or the frequency of contact with the hazard increases, the probability of the hazard resulting in a mishap also increases. While not mathematically precise, this consolidation is justified since the intent of the RAM is to provide a gross estimate of risk exposure.

The critical component to assessing risk is identifying realistic hazards.  A hazard is a condition with the potential to cause injury, illness, or death of personnel; damage to or loss of equipment or property; or mission degradation.  Hazard identification is the foundation of the entire Risk Management process; if a hazard is not identified it cannot be controlled. For more information about identifying hazards please reference NWCG Standards for Aviation Risk Management, PMS 530, Appendix A.

Downloading Content

The first step in using this workbook is to download the appropriate worksheet and reference forms to assist you in completing a Risk Assessment (RA) that is specific for your project and/or mission.  The RAs that are provided in the workbook are NOT intended to be used as stand-alone additions to your mission/project aviation plans.  The information provided should be transferred to the appropriate worksheet or document of your choice.

At the bottom of each RA page are links to download the word version of the RA, the standard worksheet, and the Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM).  Each of these items will be needed to complete the process.  Once downloaded, these items can be saved locally to your computer.  However, as documents are adjusted or improved you may want to download the latest version.  It is recommended that you check your saved forms against the current links and download new documents as necessary.  To help in identifying this, there is a date for when the page was last modified or reviewed at the bottom of each page.

Finding Risk Assessments (RAs)

The NWCG Aviation Risk Management Workbook, PMS 530-1, is easy to navigate.  At the top of each page is (directly under the banner) is a group of links.  Here you will find opportunities to navigate to the following:

The following links are where you will find the RAs:

Select the category of aviation RAs that you are looking for and it will redirect you to a home page for those RAs.  On the home page for the specific category of RAs you will find additional categories that are more specific.  These categories are known as Systems and will have the individual links to each RA for the specific system. 

IMPORTANT – You may need to look at multiple Systems to find all the hazards associated with your specific project/mission/flight. This workbook is not designed for you to download an RA as is for inserting into your planning document.

Once you have identified a hazard and the associated mitigation that is needed for your planning document, download the RA using the link provided at the bottom of the page.

Transferring Risk Assessments

The downloaded RA is designed so that you can utilize the copy and paste function to insert it into the worksheet.  Starting with the Sub-System highlight all components of the row which has the hazard you wish to copy. Using the right click on your mouse select Copy or you may use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C. 

Directions for copying a section of the document.

Select the appropriate boxes in the row of the worksheet into which you wish to enter the information. Do not select the entire row. Select only the nine table cells you will be pasting into. Then right click on your mouse and select Paste, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V.

Directions for pasting the copied selection into the Risk Assessment Workbook.

The contents of the RA will transfer using these steps. However, the formatting of the boxes will not.  To use color coding, you will have to manually add the appropriate color to the Risk Level box.  This can be done by selecting the box you wish to modify. 

Directions showing the cell highlighting needed.

Then at the top of Microsoft Word you will select the Table Design tab. On the selection bar choose Shading and select the color you wish the box to be.  This will have to be done for each Risk Level box that you would like to add color coding to.  For appropriate color coding please reference the RAM document.

Specific instructions on how to change the cell highlighting in Microsoft Word.


Repeat this process for all the hazards that you have identified.  Please remember this may require downloading more than one RA from the website. Also, you do not have to use every hazard listed on an RA.  Some hazards may not be realistic or applicable for the project/mission/flight that you are assessing.

If additional rows are needed, you can hover over the left line of the document until you see a (+) sign.  Click on that symbol to add an identical row below the current selected row. It is important to note that the drop-down lists will not automatically be added. You must copy and paste those functions using a similar method to the one described above.

IMPORTANT – You will notice the last five columns of the row you just pasted into are not filled out.  This is where you will add any additional mitigations which are local or more specific to your project/mission/flight.  You will then have to work through the appropriate steps to evaluate the risk using the RAM.

Completing Risk Assessment Worksheet

After you have identified and transferred all the hazards for your specific assessment, there are a couple of steps that need to be completed to finalize the document.

First, identify the System you are assessing.  In the upper left of the worksheet is a box labeled SYSTEM. There are two ways to label this box:

  1. You may label the box with the aircraft type and overall mission profile. An example would be Helicopter – External Load.
  2. You may label the box with the name of the project/mission that you are assessing. An example would be R4 Forest Health Protection Recon -or- (District) Noxious Weed Inventory.

Second, apply any local/additional mitigations to the hazards. If additional mitigations are identified, then you must use the RAM to assess the overall risk remaining after the local mitigation is applied.  Select the appropriate Probability and Severity associated with the remaining risk. Then select the appropriate Risk Level associated with that combination and place it into the Overall Risk column.   If a hazard does not have additional mitigations, then leave the box blank and DO NOT select a Probability or Severity level. However, in this situation you will transfer the Risk Level from the Post Mitigation column to the Overall Risk column. You should have an Overall Risk for every Hazard identified.

Third, choose the Final Risk Value which is in the lower right corner of the document. This is the highest Overall Risk rating on any one of your hazards.  You may wish to color code this box in the same way you did the Risk Level boxes (see above).

IMPORTANT – The Final Risk Value is NOT an average of the Overall Risk from each row.  It is the highest risk associated with any one row on your document.  For instance – if you have four hazards and the overall risk for each is LOW, MEDIUM, MEDIUM, HIGH. Then the Final Risk Value is HIGH.  It is not MEDIUM which would be an average of the four.

Fourth, print the document or insert it into the project document.  It is recommended that you save the worksheet under an appropriate name associated with the project/mission/flight being assessed.  You many choose to electronically insert the Prepared By information with associated date.  However, you should get an actual signature from the person approving the RA.  This can be done through a verified electronic signature or by printing the document and signing it.



The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) provides national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local partners. NWCG operations standards are interagency by design; they are developed with the intent of universal adoption by the member agencies. However, the decision to adopt and utilize them is made independently by the individual member agencies and communicated through their respective directives systems.
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