Hard Zeros - you and the Chief Judge

Every Judge must decide for each figure whether it should be marked normally (a mark from 10.0 down to 0.0, or a PZ) or given a Hard Zero. Where one or more Judges give a Hard Zero for a figure the Chief Judge must decide whether the Hard Zero should be given for all judges, or for none - it must be one or the other. If video is available it can be used to help make the decision. This decision is recorded on the Flight Summary Sheet, which provides the scorer with key information about each figure in the flight.

When the pilots marks are processed by the "FairPlay" system, special attention is given to any figures that are awarded a Hard Zero mark by one or more judges. The outcome depends on whether the figure has been declared as "OK" (ie. not a HZ) or as "CHZ" (a Confirmed Hard Zero) on the Flight Summary Sheet.

  • Where the figure is declared on the Flight Summary Sheet as "OK" then it follows that any Judge who has given a HZ is in effect wrong. FairPlay will replace the Judge's HZ with a 'Fitted Mark'.
  • Where the figure is declared on the Flight Summary Sheet as "CHZ" (a Confirmed Hard Zero) then any Judge who has given a PZ or 0.5 to 10.0 mark is similarly wrong, and a 'Fitted Mark' will be substituted.

This clear separation of OK / markable figures from Hard Zero / non-markable figures is a key part of the FairPlay system - the "was it?" / "wasn't it?" question must be resolved by all Judges long before the scorer enters the Pilots marks. Inevitably some judges will miss errors or think they see an error where there really wasn't one, and some will not. Errors such as rolls being the 'Same direction' and not 'Opposite' or perhaps a missed hesitation can give rise to un-resolvable arguments - and the figure itself is by then long since gone. If this happens the Chief Judge must discuss it with all the Judges and decide whether the mark should survive (OK) or be declared a CHZ, and that becomes the final decision for for the figure.

So - if you think that you see the 'wrong' figure flown then follow your instinct and give it a Hard Zero, and your scribe should record the reason. However be very careful to stick to the mark 'zero' (yes - it is a score!) where you simply run out of fingers during the deductions. This zero mark is written as '0.0' on the score sheet to emphasize you mean a numeric zero rather than a Hard Zero, for which you would write 'HZ'.

Don’t worry about having a Hard Zero 'overturned' by the Chief Judge, you may be the one that got it right (but this time the pilot got away with it . . .). Every judge has heard a pilot admit (usually long after the event) that they saw a real mistake and the other judges got it wrong. The judgement of aerobatic figures is a complex game played between expert Pilots and expert Judges - need we say more?

Remember that whilst you should always give the pilot the benefit of the doubt if you are unsure, it is still up to the pilot to show you the expected figure. If, in your opinion, the Pilot fails to do that then you must give your  mark accordingly.
The four most common major errors which must get an 'HZ' are:

  • Incorrect rolls (Same not Opposite, In not Out, 2 point not 4 point etc.).
  • Missing out part of a figure.
  • Missing out a whole figure, and
  • Flying in the wrong direction on the "A" axis (or doing "A" axis figures on the "B" axis!).

"Normal" major errors

Where a figure is badly flown but still generally as specified on the sequence diagram, the usual deduction of 1 mark per 5° of error is all that is necessary. Where a mistake leads to a pilot flying cross-box instead of on the "A" axis (or vice-versa) or in the wrong direction on the "A" axis however, all figures get a hard zero until and unless the unfortunate pilot resolves the problem, as they will all start with a 90° or 180° direction error. In such cases, if you can, you should continue with your comments and put the marks the pilot would have got in brackets - then he still benefits by seeing what he threw away.