"This manual serves as a series of checklists and a record of experience for pilot duties at Company. It does not include many basic airmanship tasks that are expected of any competent pilot."
- my current company pilot procedures manual
Long time readers will recall my habit of mocking passages in my company documents as I study them and ordinary sentences suddenly become ridiculous through boredom and fatigue. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I have to write the damned things. I figured out pretty early on that company manuals have two primary purposes. One is to fulfill legal requirements. The other is. like the air law itself, to serve as a comprehensive list of things the pilot can be blamed for doing wrong in the even that that pilot has an accident or otherwise inconveniences the company. That, and the never-ending task of keeping it up-to-date in the face of new routes, procedures and aircraft, explains the contradictions and impossibilities. Pilots rarely get in trouble for contravening company policy if they bring an undamaged aircraft back on time without customer complaint.
Ideally you would be able to tell pilots to fly the plane safely and efficiently, obey the law, and don't scare the customers and then instead of a three-hole punch and a ring binder you'd just laminate the one page manual and be done with it. But you have to anticipate what pilots might not know and give them the information in a way they can understand to it, refer to it and recognize its importance. There's a balance to be achieved, and I hope I've done that.