NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas

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NBAA Safety Committee Top Safety Focus Areas

The NBAA Safety Committee has identified the Association’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2014, highlighting 10 priorities in support of a greater commitment to business aviation safety standards. These safety focus areas are intended to help promote safety-enhancing discussions and initiatives within flight departments and among owner-flown operations. Review the list below for full descriptions, including NBAA resources available to help with each area of concern.

Download a summary version of the 2014 Top Safety Focus Areas, suitable to use as a meeting handout. (PDF)


  • The deliberate quest to always do the right thing through ethical behavior, personal accountability, continuous improvement, and operational discipline that includes a firm commitment to the practice of active safety management. The Professionalism Working Group is dedicated to promoting professionalism and providing useful tools and resources to support professional behavior throughout business aviation.

First mentioned in 1946, deteriorating professionalism continues to trouble the industry. John Winant wrote of the dilemma being brought up at a meeting in the novel Keep Business Flying:

ProfessionalismStuart Knickerbocker, speaking as a former airline employee, stated his views on lack of professionalism in many corporate aircrews. Stressing his belief that "we all look with skeptical eyes on men from the services because we know there is a great deal of difference between flying a bomber and carrying executive personnel," he went on to call for better means of complying with rules and regulations laid down by the government. He thought corporate pilots (he stated that Time-Life employed seven) "should be better qualified than the airline pilots. They can and should be if the facilities are made available to them. If they would put two or four hours a month in Link training it would be insurance."

Learn more about professionalism in aviation.

Positive Safety Culture

  • The entire organization must align to fully embrace a proactive safety mindset supported by a just culture and evidenced not only by participation and belief in the culture, but the willingness to share safety data with fellow aviation professionals. The Positive Safety Culture Working Group is developing strategies to help operators continuously improve their safety culture.

Safety CultureA company's culture is a set of established beliefs, values, norms, attitudes, and practices. Corporate culture starts at the top of an organization and trickles down through the entire organization. To create an effective top down safety culture, safety must be made a priority beginning with the company's executive management. The effort to establish such a culture can be initiated by incorporating safety into the company's goals, values, or mission statement.

Review the NTSB presentation "Safety Leadership: Can Bad Things Happen to Good Companies?"

Single-Pilot Safety

  • As a result of cost reductions and/or entrepreneurial spirit, the necessity to arm pilots with the tools to safely manage single-pilot operations has become more important than ever. The Single-Pilot Safety Working Group provides helpful tools and informative resources, including the annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown.

Light Business Airplane (LBA) SafetyAccident rates are consistently higher for single engine piston powered aircraft. Owner flown aircraft face unique challenges; often a lack of guidance, financial support, and clear procedures allow the pilot to use personal discretion without a set standard to measure against.

The NBAA Safety Committee partners with the Type Club Coalition to bring together stakeholders for the common purpose of increasing safety in general aviation, and it also helps generate content for the annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown. The NBAA offers a variety of other resources to help LBA operators conduct safe and efficient operations including the LBA Flight Operations Manual Template and the Safety Best Practices.

Fitness for Duty

  • In a physically and mentally demanding environment, a clear mind and healthy body is essential to safe business aircraft operation, maintenance, and management. Fatigue, sleep apnea, improper use of medications and many other aeromedical issues are currently being addressed by the Fitness for Duty Working Group.

FatigueFatigue is affected by length of flight and duty time, light exposure, and stresses outside of work. It can reduce a pilot's capacity for work, reduce efficiency of accomplishment, and is usually accompanied by feelings of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue is dangerous because pilots are not able to reliably detect their personal degree of impairment due to fatigue. Review NBAA's fatigue resources including "Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation" and "The Alert Crew: Fatigue Awareness in Flight Operations."

Airport Safety

  • Effective risk management requires operators to exercise increased vigilance while operating at unfamiliar, non-towered, or complex airport environments. The Airport Safety Working Group promotes use of tools to help manage threats on and around the airport environment to include wildlife, infrastructure challenges, and other inherent airport hazards.

Airport SafetyBusiness aviation pilots face the unique challenge of operating into airports that are not Part 139 certified. These airports are not as well equipped to deal with an emergency which may result in increased losses or damages. Smaller airports, often without control towers, leave the pilot devoid of the extra set of eyes to ensure separation and runway free of aircraft and wildlife. In addition, flying into unfamiliar airports of any kind can present unique challenges for business aircraft operators. The Safety Committee has recently commissioned a dedicated Working Group to study the hazards of operating at non-139 or unfamiliar airports. For more information, review the NBAA Airports Handbook or the NBAA Whitepaper: "Operating Into a Non-Towered Airport? Tips and Tools Are Available".

Airmanship Skills

  • The common denominator for excellence in aviation decision making, risk and flight path management is training. The Training Advisory Subcommittee aims to dramatically improve the value proposition for business aviation training that will lead to a reduction in loss of control, runway excursions, and other business aviation accidents.

Airmanship SkillsNBAA Safety Committee member Steve Charbonneau pointed out that "up until now, nobody has really put together a safety program that specifically addresses the skill sets required of business aviation pilots." Today's recurrent training process basically recertifies pilots rather than teaching them new skills or sharpening old ones. For the last year, the Safety Committee has been working with industry stakeholders to examine how recertification can be improved.

Read more about the Safety Committee's initiative.

Distraction Management

  • Too much to do without enough time, tools or resources leads to the inability to focus on what really matters, often precluding appropriate assessment of risk as well as proper threat and error management. Achieving and maintaining situational awareness while under pressure is key for successful business aviation operations to occur.

Task SaturationAs saturation increases, performance decreases and the number of errors increases; these problems can be compounded by fatigue. When experiencing task saturation, a pilot may begin shutting down or compartmentalizing. The pilot may completely stop performing or begin acting sporadically and continously reorganizing but not producing any effective results.

Task saturation can be avoided by using checklists. Checklists give a pilot a clear line of action, including a definitive starting point. Effective use of a co-pilot or other crewmembers can also help reduce task saturation. Learn more about how crew resource management (CRM) can help prevent task saturation.

Public Policy

  • Legislative decisions and policy making, both domestically and internationally, are having detrimental safety implications and could prove to cause a significant degradation of future safety for business aviation.

Public PolicyThe political view of business aviation is taking a turn for the better, leaving behind negative sentiments from comments about the auto industry's use of corporate aircraft. However, political pressure to implement user fees remains a constant threat that needs attention. Begin to make a difference by contacting your Congressman today.

Talent Pipeline

  • The forecasted shortage of business aviation professionals will create challenges in attracting, developmental mentoring, and retaining new professionals who can safely manage, maintain, service, and fly business aviation into the future.

Talent PipelineA pilot shortage is forecast for the near future. For scheduled airlines, the problem is compounded by pilots reaching age 65 and mandatory retirement starting in December 2012, and copilots require 1500 hours beginning August 2013. Commercial operators with more resources are expected to scoop up many qualified candidates leaving business aviation to fend for itself. Today's aviation professionals must begin to recruit and mentor the professionals of tomorrow.

Review NBAA's scholarships and begin preparing for a career in aviation now.

Technology Management

  • The rate of technological developments and implementation has increased dramatically, challenging the ability to adapt or continue with obsolete systems.

New technologies are continuously introduced into the aviation industry, current implementations include NextGen, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and advanced avionics. The next generation of air traffic control technologies already being implemented across the country, known as NextGen, Impact of Technologyis changing from World War II technology to modern satellite based tracking systems. This means new methods of routing aircraft and new landing procedures. It is important that pilots receive adequate training on each new piece of technology as it is implemented to maintain safety.
Find out more about NextGen.

The FAA has announced plans to begin introducing unmanned aircraft into the NAS by 2015. UAS proponents argue that this is not soon enough, while the NBAA agrees it is an appropriate, if not slightly expedited, timeline. Unmanned aircraft are often small and difficult to detect using current see and avoid techniques. The technology to enable unmanned aircraft to independently sense and avoid on coming traffic is still developing. Safe verbal and non-verbal communication procedures will be needed for unmanned aircraft, ATC, and Pilots. Find out more about the FAA's UAS implementation plan.

Today's avionics are advancing quickly. Without proper training, they can be very dangerous. However, when properly trained, pilots can use new avionics technology to drastically improve situational awareness. The NTSB has released a study that found glass cockpit technologies in light aircraft did not produce a "measureable improvement in safety when compared to similar aircraft with conventional instruments." Read the NTSB study "Introduction of Glass Cockpit Avionics into Light Aircraft".