July 14, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast podcast on assessing safety at airports, the sixth in a series on NBAA’s Top Safety Focus Areas.

Among the NBAA Safety Committee’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2014 is airport safety – a vast topic, considering the different airport environments in which Members operate. To enhance airport operations safety, the committee’s Airport Safety Working Group has come up with a new tool designed to help operators assess safety risks at airports around the world.

“Consider it a PIREP (pilot report) about any kind of condition you might find at the airport,” said Airport Safety Working Group Leader Bob Conyers of Baldwin Aviation. “That’s why we decided to create a risk assessment tool. It’s been vetted with both airport and aircraft operators.”

In its current pre-release form, the Airport Audit Tool is a seven-page checklist designed for use by flight crews prior to arrival at an airport with which they have no experience. It assesses issues that range from pavement markings to airport fencing.

“Our Members operate into a wide variety of airports with very different levels of service, equipment and capabilities, unlike airlines. A lot of times, they are airports without control towers, with little or no maintenance capabilities. There are sometimes issues with airport upkeep and even non-standard signage. Those things can pose a risk to operators that generally doesn’t get attention,” said Conyers.

The Airport Audit Tool, which is now in the final stages of development, is designed to standardize the process of identifying and assessing risks that are unique to each airport-operating environment. Approximately three-quarters of the audit can be completed with the use of standard aids such as Jeppesen and AC-U-Kwik airport directories, said Conyers.

“But it also requires an on-site visit where the operator can speak to both airport and FBO management and inspect things like the perimeter fencing and wildlife management measures and ramp environments” he added.

The checklist is designed as a guide for flight crew members as they ask questions about the airport environment, providing them with valuable guidance during flight planning in the assessment process. Conyers said he hopes it will be available as a PDF file on the NBAA website before NBAA’s 2014 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2014), which takes place from Oct. 21 to 23 in Orlando, FL.

“Down the road – sometime in 2015 – we hope to use the information gleaned through the use of this form to create a database for NBAA Members,” said Conyers.