I am not new to the game, I have well over 25 years of experience. I am on this forum and I have to use risk assessments so I think I meet the criteria of who you are asking the question to in the discussion.
I have to disagree with your presumptions because history just doesn't support it. You noted the following:
"The pilot is good to go (IMSAFE), the machine is good to go, the pilot monitored the environment for which he or she going to operate in and have considered all of the possible scenarios. This was all done in their heads, based on their training and experience."
"What’s going to get them is the unknown which cannot be forecasted in a RA matrix. We plan and prepare to the best of our abilities but as the statistics show, no matter what is done, people will still make the ultimate mistake and no matrix will prevent it."
First, people are not getting into trouble because of the unknown. Most occur with things that are known before they take off. Second, if they considered all possible scenarios, nobody would ever crash unless they chose the scenario in which they crashed.
Can you provide a recent helicopter crash that occurred due to something that couldn't have been forecast? You may not be able to predict an exact event at a specific time but you can forecast potential issues with a risk assessment if used correctly. If you just check boxes looking for a good number and then go, you are right, it is a waste of time. But if you use it as a tool as intended, then it can work well.
Look at the HEMS crashes. Most of the crashes are flight into bad weather where they go IIMC and then crash. Was the weather unknown? Nope. They either knew and went anyway or never checked the weather. Why?
You are right, if you hire good pilots you have a lower chance of having a major event but there are a lot of good, dead pilots so that isn't a foolproof plan.
You may not be able to predict an exact event at a specific time but you can forecast things with a risk assessment but it has to be used correctly. If you just check boxes looking for a good number and then go, you are right, nothing is accomplished. But if you use it as a tool as intended, then it can work well.
So, what is the ultimate risk assessment? Who knows. If I did I would be too busy counting my money to be on this site. But here is what I think it should contain how it should be used:
Items that need to be addressed:
1. Physiological considerations
2. Proficiency considerations
3. Aircraft considerations
4. Environmental considerations
Look at those four items and make sure they correlate the way they should.
I make a personal assessment and realize I am tired since I didn't sleep well last night but I am still ok to fly. It is a risk but I will mitigate it by taking things a bit slower and double checking things as I go.
I have flown 40 hours during the day this month, I feel proficient in flying but how proficient am I at night since I haven't flown at night in 45 days? That is a risk, I will fly a little higher, only accept a larger landing area, take things a bit slower. The risk assessment just helped.
On that same flight, I see the weather is just above mins at the areas reporting weather in the area but where I am going there is no reporting source but I am familiar with the area so I make an educated guess the weather will be the same or higher. I am a VFR only pilot so what do I do to mitigate it? Perhaps I will review obstacles in the area just to make sure if I have to be a little lower than normal I can still safely fly. My risk assessment just helped.
I mitigated my individual risks but now, I look back at my risk assessment. I wanted to fly higher because it was night and I didn't want to hit any obstacles. It was also bad weather so I realized I might have to fly lower, that might be an issue one way or the other. Since it is night time, I have a greater chance of inadvertently flying into a cloud and it will be much darker because of the cloud cover. Plus, since I am a bit tired and only fly VFR, if I go into the clouds I don't have a really good chance of getting out of that situation alive. Perhaps now would be a good time to take another look at the list of the hazards I noted and see if there is a better way to mitigate them collectively. If not, maybe I shouldn't go.
Can a good pilot correlate all of that in their head? Sometimes, but not every time. If you have a risk assessment tool that lets you identify hazards and look at all of them collectively to make a better decision, that is a good thing. It doesn't have to give you license to go or not to go, it just lets you review your options and adjust as necessary.
Edited by dolphindriver, 02 March 2017 - 13:02.