The NBAA Safety Committee has identified the Association’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2018, highlighting a number of priorities in support of a greater commitment to business aviation safety standards. These safety priorities, grouped into two areas – Top Safety Issues and Foundations for Safety – are intended to help promote safety-enhancing discussions and initiatives within flight departments and among owner-flown operations.
Top Safety Issues
Loss of control inflight (LOC-I) accidents result in more fatalities in business aviation than any other category of accident. The NTSB continues to target the issue on its 2017 “Most Wanted” list of safety improvements, citing its linkage in over 40 percent of fixed-wing general aviation accidents from 2001 to 2014. The alarming consistency of catastrophic outcomes in this type of accident make this a targeted issue for safety improvement by the NBAA Safety Committee and aviation professional organizations across the globe. Learn more about this severe threat on NBAA’s new LOC-I information page where you will find a wide variety of resources, expert safety presentations and information on upset prevention and recovery training providers.
- NBAA Safety Resource: Loss of Control Inflight
- Alone in the Cockpit – A Video About Loss of Control
- Loss of Control Inflight Education Video Series
Nearly a third of business aviation accidents are runway excursions, making this the most common type of accident. Runway excursions are often survivable, but that does not diminish this towering safety concern, which drives a staggering annual injury and damage toll estimated at $900 million industry-wide. The sting is made more acute by the fact that most excursions are preventable by recognizing well-identified risk factors, adhering to stabilized approach and landing criteria, and using accurate and timely runway condition data. Shifting perceptions and behaviors to increase the procedural adoption of approach and landing best practices in business aviation represent difficult challenges still ahead. Review news and resources about runway excursions.
Accident rates are consistently higher for single-pilot operated aircraft, who are 30% more likely to be involved in an accident than a dual-pilot crew. Single pilots generally have a sole responsibility for the overall enterprise supported by that aircraft, and may often lack the necessary guidance and clear procedures along with a set of standards against which to measure risk mitigation. Single-pilot operations are more susceptible to task saturation, and when task saturation increases, so too does the number of errors and risk for Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT), for example. These problems can be compounded by fatigue and other fitness for duty concerns. The necessity to arm pilots with the tools, training and proficiency to safely manage single-pilot operations has become more important than ever. Find information and resources at NBAA’s new Single-Pilot Operations page.
- Risk Management Guide for Single-Pilot Light Business Aircraft – includes a flight risk assessment tool specifically developed with single-pilot operators in mind
Professional aviators are duty bound to comply with federal, state, local and international regulations, company policies and manufacturer procedures. Yet non-compliance remains as a significant contributing factor in aircraft accidents and incidents. It is imperative that business aviators in all vocational categories become aware of the extent that non-compliance has proliferated in business aviation, identify the causal factors for non-compliance and develop workable solutions that eliminate non-compliance events. See more about procedural non-compliance.
While flying, pilots are trained to understand their responsibilities and maintain vigilance when it comes to avoiding collisions with other aircraft; however, movement of vehicles and aircraft on non-controlled airport surfaces brings about unique challenges, and individuals operating on the airport surface may or may not be aware of just how acute the hazards of ground operations really are. While collisions involving aircraft, vehicles, buildings and fixtures on the airport surface result in a low number of fatalities, the costs associated with aircraft repairs, including time out of service and diminution of value, are significant. Anyone operating a vehicle or moving an aircraft on the airport surface has a responsibility to exercise increased vigilance to mitigate this hazard. Learn more about hangar and ground safety.
Too much to do without enough time, tools or resources leads to the inability to focus, assess risk and manage threats and errors. Distractions result in a loss of situational awareness and continue to be the most pervasive ‘human’ threat to safety. Proactive management of personal electronic devices, pressure and other stressors are needed to mitigate this hazard. Countering complacency and automation confusion are also necessary to ensure that managing safety-of-flight technology does not itself become a distraction. See how crew resource management (CRM) can help prevent task saturation.
Increased fidelity and quality of training is the mitigation strategy that will make the most positive impact in aviation safety. This new training and checking approach integrates Aeronautical Decision Making and problem solving via scenarios drawn from operator risk profiles. Key to this approach is the need to optimize the balance between learning/checking, and ensuring that learning and checking remains refreshed with the latest identified safety issues. Read about scenario-based Training Management Systems.
Positive Safety Culture Promotion
Most safety data points to the fundamental importance of a positive safety culture, or the lack thereof. An open and non-punitive reporting environment is paramount to the success of any safety program. Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by open communication, promotion of education and/or continuous improvement, safety promotion within the Safety Management System, and a proactive approach to safety reporting. Overall, safety leadership is key to optimizing safety management systems.
- Safety Leadership and Culture Resources
- Best Practices for Safety Climate, Culture and Management Systems Video
Inflight Aircraft Collision Risk
Data has shown over the past year an increase in Traffic Collision Avoidance System Traffic Advisories (TAs) and Resolution Advisories (RAs) as overall demand for airspace continues to rise. Weather impacts traffic flow in busy terminal airspace, and the introduction of NextGen technologies, such as complex arrival and departure procedures, can create challenges for aircrew. Pilots must alert to near-miss threats from other aircraft and small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operated outside of current regulations and guidelines. Further, pilots should fly in a way that more effectively arrests climb and descent rates that have the potential to set off “nuisance” traffic alerts. Continued vigilance and professionalism is absolutely required by all stakeholders to ensure aviation safety. Browse the Practical Guide for Improving Flight Path Monitoring and find out more about the NextGen program and the NBAA’s Pilot Pocket Guide
Workforce Competency and Staffing
Business aviation is always in need of a workforce that can safely manage, maintain, service, design, manufacture, and fly its aircraft. Increased industry workforce needs have recently changed intra-industry workforce dynamics, requiring the business aviation community to adapt to attract and retain a current and future business aviation workforce. A gap in personnel compounds pressures on the remaining workforce, adds to the stresses of management, requires resources to hire and train new employees, and can increase the likelihood of fitness for duty concerns in the existing workforce if not properly managed. The business aviation workforce must be timely resourced and prepared with the knowledge, skills and experience to safely lead in business aviation’s dynamic environment. Learn more about NBAA’s workforce development initiatives, including: NBAA Young Professionals (YoPro); NBAA Mentoring Network, NBAA Scholarships and the NBAA Compensation Survey.
Safety Data Sharing and Utilization
The collection, analysis, and sharing of narrative safety reports and recorded operations data is the basis on which the aviation industry is transitioning from reactive post-accident investigative safety management to proactive, and eventually predictive, safety management. By understanding the “what” through the recorded operations data as well as the “why” through the narrative safety reporting, and the industry-wide sharing of that knowledge, the opportunity exists to continue to reduce the underlying risks in the aviation system that can lead to accidents and incidents. It is imperative that the business aviation community contribute in these communities to further see return on the industry’s safety investments.
- May/June 2017 NBAA Business Aviation Insider Article: “Sharing is a good thing”
- Business Aviation Compliance With Manufacturer-Required Flight-Control Checks Before Takeoff – NBAA’s final report on the association’s collaboration with the NTSB analyzing the extent to which noncompliance with manufacturer-required routine flight-control checks before takeoff exists
Foundations for Safety
Professionalism is the pursuit of excellence through discipline, ethical behavior and continuous improvement. It is a cornerstone focus of active safety management where professional behaviors rule and safe actions become a byproduct. Professionalism is about who we are and how we approach everything that we do. Learn more about professionalism in business aviation.
The entire organization must work together to fully embrace a proactive safety mindset supported by a “just culture” and evidenced by not only participation and belief in the culture, but the willingness to share safety data with fellow aviation professionals. This second foundation for safety highlights the need for an effective set of beliefs, values, attitudes and practices from executive management to the flight line. Review NBAA’s safety leadership resources.
The common denominator for excellence in aviation decision making, risk management and flight path management is training. Improved business aviation training will lead to a reduction in loss of control, runway excursions and other business aviation accidents. Training programs need to address the skill sets required of business aviation professionals today in a way that teaches them new skills and sharpens old ones. Find an NBAA Professional Development course to help enhance your skills, review scholarship opportunities for training courses around the country and consult NBAA’s Training Management System Guide (PDF).
On a daily basis, business aviation operators must effectively identify, analyze and eliminate or mitigate the hazards and associated risks that threaten the viability of the organizations for which they operate. Learn more about safety management systems and benchmark your risk management policies against industry peers using data from over 800 business aviation professionals collected in the 2016 Business Aviation Safety Survey.
In a physically and mentally demanding environment, a clear mind and healthy body is essential to safe business aircraft operation, maintenance and management. Operators must address fatigue, sleep apnea, improper use of medications and many other physical and psychological aeromedical issues. Find more information and resources related to fitness for duty on NBAA’s Human Factors page and download the collaborative NBAA and Flight Safety Foundation publication NBAA’s Human Factors page and download the collaborative NBAA and Flight Safety Foundation publication Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation to review science-based guidelines for duty and rest scheduling.