The NBAA Safety Committee has identified the association’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2021-2022, highlighting a number of priorities in support of a greater commitment to business aviation safety standards. These safety priorities, grouped into three areas – Address Preventable Accidents, Engage Unique Operational Concerns, and Identify and Implement Mitigation Strategies – are intended to help promote safety-enhancing discussions and initiatives within flight departments and among owner-flown operations.
Address Preventable Accidents
Loss of Control Inflight
Loss of control inflight (LOC-I) accidents result in more fatalities throughout general aviation than any other accident category. The alarming consistency of catastrophic outcomes in this type of accident continues to make its contributing factors a targeted issue for safety improvement by NBAA and aviation professional organizations across the globe. Learn more about this severe threat on NBAA’s 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 across the country.
- Review NBAA’s Loss of Control Inflight Resources
- Alone in the Cockpit – A Video About Loss of Control
- Loss of Control Inflight Education Video Series
Runway excursions continue to afflict the business aviation industry. Operators can prevent most excursions by mitigating well-identified hazards, including adhering to stabilized approach and landing criteria, and using accurate and timely runway condition data. The Safety Committee continues to raise awareness of these highly preventable incidents by utilizing a data-driven approach to enable all operators to learn from the experiences of their peers.
- Read NBAA’s Overview of Runway Excursions and Related Resources
- Learn more about TALPA, a useful tool for determining runway conditions
- View NBAA’s Airport Audit Tool
Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)
Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) has occurred in more than 10 percent of general aviation accidents and fatalities and continues to be a top 4 defining event among business and general aviation accidents. Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (EGPWS) and other ground collision avoidance systems are exceptionally capable technological solutions, but not all business aviation aircraft are so equipped. Further, safety data reporting on EGPWS alerting still points to loss of terrain awareness that would have otherwise resulted in catastrophe had it not been for a last-minute save by the crew. NBAA continues to raise awareness, push for scenario-based training, and spark discussions on technology and best practices to reduce the risk of CFIT.
- Learn more about preventing CFIT from the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GA-JSC) Controlled Flight Into Terrain Working Group:
- View the Safety Committee’s presentation from 2018 NBAA-BACE (PDF)
- View the Safety Committee’s updated accident analysis presentation from the 2019 NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown
Ground Operations and Maintenance Accidents
Within business aviation, far more aircraft suffer damage on the ground than in the air. Although these events rarely result in serious injuries or loss of life, they can be very expensive and hinder, if not cancel altogether, any ensuing flight operations. NBAA encourages the adoption of robust Safety Management Systems (SMS) among all operators and FBOs which would include enhanced standards, training, and procedures to prevent avoidable mishaps on ramps and in hangars.
- Learn more about hangar and ground safety
- Read the September/October 2020 Business Aviation Insider article “Handle With Care”
- View Business Aviation Insider infographic about ground handling incident statistics (PDF)
Engage Unique Operational Concerns
Flight Crew & Maintenance Operations Proficiency
The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to significant reductions in flight and maintenance operations within many business aviation operations. Finding ways to maintain legal currency and, more importantly, proficiency is key to the safe resumption of flight and maintenance operations when the call comes for operations to resume. The flexibility that business aviation provides means that such a call is likely to occur on short notice. Leading operators are using the downtime in normal flight operations to get ahead on preventative maintenance, and leveraging all flying opportunities to hone stick and rudder, automation management, and aeronautical decision-making skills in order to be ready when the call for a trip does come.
- Read the May/June 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Insider article “Flight Crews: Brushing Up on Piloting Skills”
Single-Pilot Accident Rate
Single pilot operations have enhanced risks when compared to multi-pilot operations, demonstrated by the fact that single-pilot aircraft are 30 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than aircraft with dual pilot crews. Single pilot operations are more susceptible to task saturation; when task saturation increases, so too does the number of errors. The Safety Committee has an important role to play in arming pilots with tools and training to safely manage single-pilot operations. Examples of these efforts include the annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown event, contributions to news and resources, and further outreach to the single-pilot community.
- Review NBAA’s Single-Pilot Operations page
- Risk Management Guide for Single-Pilot Light Business Aircraft, which includes a flight risk assessment tool specifically developed with single-pilot operations in mind
Aviators are duty-bound to comply with federal, state, local and international regulations, company policies, and manufacturer procedures. Yet non-compliance remains 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.
- NBAA Safety Resource: Procedural Non-Compliance: Learning the Markers and Mitigating the Risks (PDF)
Fitness for Duty
The global COVID-19 pandemic has added a significant number of new life stressors and increased the intensity of other typical stressors, creating a unique operational concern for the business aviation community. Fitness for Duty remains among the Foundations of Safety within the NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas for its ongoing focus on physical health, mental health, and fatigue. The NBAA Safety Committee, on the basis of feedback received during its biannual safety survey, felt it an important enough topic to include twice for this Top Safety Focus Area cycle as we seek to address the unique additional complexities of ensuring Fitness for Duty when performing safety-sensitive functions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- View NBAA COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources
- View 2020 NBAA Virtual Safety Week Presentations on Fitness for Duty
- Watch the April 15, 2020 NBAA News Hour “How to Keep Your Crew Fit for Duty During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Identify & Implement Mitigation Strategies
Safety Management Systems Implementation
Business aviation organizations should incorporate a systemic approach to proactively managing safety in their operations, thereby identifying hazards and mitigating the risk before it leads to an accident. With the FAA Administrator having indicated forthcoming rulemaking activity to mandate Safety Management Systems (SMS) for Part 135 operators, Part 145 repair stations, and some air tour operators, the time to begin efforts to implement an SMS is now. An SMS needs to grow from its implementation point and over time become an integral part of how an organization improves the conduct of its business and its safety posture.
- View NBAA Safety Management Systems Information
- Read 2021 May/June NBAA Business Aviation Insider article “An SMS Mandate is Coming”
- Read 2021 May/June NBAA Business Aviation Insider article “Above and Beyond: IS-BAO’s Plan for Continuous Improvement”
Safety Manager Qualification and Training
As business aviation continues to raise the bar on safety, it needs capable and qualified individuals who can serve as the day-to-day leads of the safety efforts within an organization. That need is emphasized with an SMS mandate on the horizon, the growth in responsibilities of safety managers to include safety data use and analysis, as well as the growth in sharing safety data among multiple operators or organizations. Those organizations that are further along on their safety journey indicate that there are real safety and culture benefits from those times when the approach was just right. Real pitfalls exist that can hamstring an organization’s safety improvement when the safety manager or the organization’s leadership get it wrong. Training for business aviation safety managers will help these respected individuals and their organizations realize the benefits of getting it right and avoid the pitfalls of getting it wrong.
- Read the May/June 2020 NBAA Business Aviation Insider President’s Perspective article titled “Safety Lessons for Beyond the COVID Era” for more on NBAA’s efforts to improve the qualification and training of business aviation safety managers.
Increase the Use and Sharing of Human-Reported and Automated Safety Data
Human-reported and automated safety data can provide a wealth of information to business aircraft operators. However, in a survey conducted by the NBAA Safety Committee, only 45% of association members said they participate in some sort of an automated safety data-sharing effort.
In the aftermath of recent incidents, NBAA members have seen data pointing to the prevalence of common causes throughout the industry. How many incidents might business aviation prevent by taking advantage of this information before a tragedy, rather than after? Without operators utilizing or providing data, these critical failures can go unnoticed, even in the most robust SMS, resulting in incidents and potentially loss of life. The Safety Committee is developing tools to promote the use and sharing of data among business aircraft operators not already doing so.
- Read the May/June 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Insider Article “The Value of Data Sharing”
- Read the May/June 2017 NBAA Business Aviation Insider Article “Sharing is a Good thing”
- View Business Aviation Insider infographic about the ASIAS Data Sharing Program (PDF)
- Business Aviation Compliance With Manufacturer-Required Flight-Control Checks Before Takeoff (PDF) – 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.
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 Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation (PDF) to review science-based guidelines for duty and rest scheduling.