June 27, 2011

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by strangers in a strange place, unable to understand the language or the customs? Were you worried about your safety in those surroundings? That is often the case for the increasing number of women on either side of the cockpit door in business aviation.

Jo Damato, NBAA’s Director of Operations and Educational Development, is out to change that with a webinar scheduled for June 28 entitled “Safety and Security: Threat Mitigation for the Traveling Businesswoman.”

“We are finding there are more female crew members,” observed Damato. “There are also more businesswomen traveling. They are going to more remote parts of the world. It’s important for them to have background on the culture and some of the things they may not know that can keep them safe.”

Katie Colberg agreed, with a perspective based on experience. Colberg is a program manager at ASI Global, which specializes in threat mitigation and response for both families and businesses.

“Companies have really started to recognize the needs and the issues that females are encountering overseas are just a little bit different than what men encounter,” she said.

For instance, Colberg pointed out, in many religiously observant Middle Eastern countries, women are not allowed to drive. In public, they must cover their faces and dress very conservatively. Breaking those cultural rules could result in danger to a woman and her traveling companions.

“It’s not about scaring [travelers],” she hastened to add. “We just want to bring it to the front of everybody’s minds so that, when they’re traveling, they can take precautions. We’re actually going to discuss what we look for when we go into a security situation,” in NBAA’s June 28th webinar, she said. “And, it’s not only for women, but for the men who travel with them. It’s about keeping everybody safe.”

The precautions necessary to maintain crew safety – and especially the safety of female crew and passengers – can change quickly. Consider the recent uprising in Egypt, suggested Aviation Week journalist Benet Wilson, moderator of the June 28th webinar. Wilson travels extensively in pursuit of stories on the aerospace industry.

“These events are not static. They change day-by-day,” Wilson said. “The companies that do the best are the ones that best prepare their employees.”

While more corporations are developing in-house intelligence capabilities designed to discern and track societal changes that could impact crew safety, Wilson said the webinar will also focus on what individuals can do to prepare for a trip to a new and perhaps very different destination.

For more information contact NBAA’s Jo Damato at jdamato@nbaa.org.