Aug 11, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast on the importance of enhancing airmanship skills for safety. This is the sixth podcast in a series on NBAA’s 2014 Top Safety Focus Areas.

In an age of increasing aviation automation and growing airspace complexity, operators’ skills are evolving. While it is still important to be on top of stick-and-rudder abilities, pilots need to integrate cockpit automation techniques, pilot monitoring skills and more in order to pursue that “perfect flight.”

Those concepts, articulated by members of the NBAA Safety Committee’s Training Advisory Subcommittee, have led to the creation of a new soon-to-be-delivered, online Training Management Systems Tool. It’s an effort to incorporate training concepts and the sort of organization flight departments have become familiar with, thanks to the safety management system concept put forth by the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations.

“The idea is to show flight operators how to incorporate training as a tool to mitigate risk,” said Steve Charbonneau, deputy chairman of the NBAA Safety Committee and the senior manager of aviation training and standards at Altria Client Services. “It will help operators identify training needs, develop training plans, then evaluate those plans to gauge their effectiveness.”

The development of superior airmanship skills is one of the Safety Committee’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2014, and one that continues to evolve with the demands on pilots and their technology, Charbonneau said. He pointed out the need to update proficiency training required under 14 CFR Part 61.58. Those checks often center on stick-and-rudder issues, such as hand-flying during single-engine approaches, missed approaches and other non-standard aviation events. Review the requirements.

“But there’s not enough focus on automation skills or scenario-based training,” added J.R. Russell, chairman of Proactive Safety Systems, Inc., who leads the Training Advisory Subcommittee. “Many pilots are flying with very sophisticated flight deck systems. Yet they have very little in the way of resources to learn how to work those systems, especially in a high-task workload environment.”

That problem is often exacerbated in single-pilot environments, said Russell. For those operators, the NBAA Safety Committee is developing “plug-and-play” templates for the creation of standard operating procedures (SOP) he believes are vital for single pilots.

“That’s the way to handle this high-threat environment. It’s so easy with advanced instrumentation and flight management systems to be drawn into the ‘gee whiz’ stuff and get behind the aircraft,” he said. “If single pilots can be convinced of the importance of SOPs, then we have those tools ready for their use.”

Throughout the year, NBAA and its affiliates offer a number of safety standdown events for flight departments and single pilot operators. NBAA’s Single Pilot Safety Standdown takes place on Monday, Oct. 20 in conjunction with NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2014) in Orlando, FL. Sponsored by Textron Aviation, the NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown will draw upon the actual experiences of pilots, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer information sharing. Safety-themed sessions will focus on issues specifically affecting single pilot operations including runway incursions/excursions, loss of control, weather, air traffic control and human factors.

“It’s important that organizations and individuals seek opportunities to update and evolve their procedures and skills,” said Russell. “What worked 30 years ago may not work today. Crew resource management has evolved. Flight deck procedures, checklist management procedures – all that has changed significantly. Organization need to have continuous improvement processes in place.”

Review the NBAA Safety Committee presentation, “Training Management Systems for Business Aviation.”