Aviation Safety: BizAv Won't Stand Still

Going above and beyond to raise the stakes on BizAv safety standards...

Dave Higdon  |  18th March 2016
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Dave Higdon
Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon is a highly respected, NBAA Gold Wing award-winning aviation journalist who has covered all...

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Business Aviation Safety

It’s no cliché as the Business Aviation community drives towards the goal of helping us all arrive alive, notes Dave Higdon. The past week offered signs of how aviation goes above and beyond minimums to make it so…

There's unlikely to be a pilot living who doesn't remember the least clichéd of all safety clichés, one frequently used by my late wife. “Remember - whatever happens in an airplane, the pilot is almost always first to the scene of the crash”, she’d say...

“Pilots always fly with a goal of arriving alive,” she'd explain, adding as she nodded toward me, “because he knows what I'd do if he ever fails that goal.” She had picked up that gem from a friend, now retired from the FAA. But she'd already seen how safety is an endless pursuit in flying.

That's a commitment demonstrated repeatedly by pilots, operators and their industry groups.

The Pursuit of Accident-Free

First up, last Thursday NBAA released its Safety Committee's ‘2016 Top Safety Focus Areas’. The result of months of work by this standing committee added two new areas of focus to the 2016 list while the rest, unfortunately, remain areas carried over from 2015.

The holdovers – Loss of control in-Flight (LOC-I) and runway excursions – continue to vex safety officials, investigators and, apparently pilots, alike. In reality, reducing LOC-I accidents could contribute to reducing runway excursions because of how often approach problems can become excursions.

The two new items are Single-Pilot Accidents and Ground-Handling Accidents.

NBAA's Safety Committee found that 60% of accidents involving turboprops certified for single-pilot operations were being flown by a single pilot at the time of the accident. Additionally, the committee's research found that turboprops flown single-pilot face a chance of being involved in an accident 1.5 times greater than dual-piloted aircraft.

The committee added ground-handling incidents with findings showing 48% of survey respondents reported having 1-3 ground-handling incidents or close-calls in the last three years. Another 8% reported 4-9 incidents or close-calls in the same period. In addition to those four issues, the committee identified the following notable safety hazards:

  • Intentional non-compliance
  • Distractions from duty
  • Fatigue (a recurrent issue)
  • Task saturation
  • Bird and wildlife issues
  • Intentional laser strikes
  • Airspace complexities
  • Pilot deviations.

Call for 135 Training Improvements

On March 16, NATA and NBAA unveiled recommendations to improve Part 135 training. They were developed over two years by the two associations and a group of on-demand air carriers and training centers.

Recommendations made by the FAA Air Carrier Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee, developed by its Air Carrier & Contract Training Working Group (AC & CT WG), urge the FAA to align regulations under Part 135 and Part 142 to reduce administrative inefficiencies, develop a standardized training curriculum model for Part 135 operators and develop scenario-enhanced recurrent training and checking for Part 135 operators.

Parallel Efforts, One Goal

While the details of these recommendations cover administrative, flight and simulator training for pilots flying for 135 operators, the goals remain the same as those the NBAA unveiled a week before: Safer flying.

Specifically, the goal is to help aviators, operators and training companies to align their efforts. And their focus on safer flying is certainly no accident – but part of an endless community-wide drive to help us all arrive alive – and is a sign of how aviation goes above and beyond minimums to make it so.

It's the Business Aviation community reaffirming that, to its credit, safety is no cliché.

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