March 14, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued five new safety alerts for general aviation (GA), with two focused on decision-making and risk management for pilots and maintenance technicians.

“We think that, in particular, these two NTSB safety alerts can be helpful for small business flight departments and light business aircraft members of NBAA,” said Doug Carr, the Association’s vice president, safety, security, operations & regulation. “They don’t always have a support mechanism for difficult safety-driven decisions. For them, the entire flight or maintenance responsibility relies on one person.”

The five new NTSB safety alerts are:

NTSB safety alerts are brief safety information sheets that pinpoint particular hazards and offer practical remedies for those hazards. Since 2004, the NTSB has issued 13 safety alerts for the aviation community, more than for highway and boating safety combined. Review the full list of NTSB safety alerts.

NBAA Safety Committee Chair Eric Barfield praised the NTSB for providing the new resources, saying the GA industry has long advocated additional focus on decision-making and risk management. “It’s been a collaborative effort,” he said, “but I commend the NTSB Board members for stepping out in front by issuing these GA safety notices.”

NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman announced the new alerts at a March 12 NTSB meeting, which was attended by four of the five NTSB Board Members: Christopher Hart, Robert Sumwalt, Mark Rosekind and Earl Weener. All four have FAA pilot certificates and extensive experience in aviation, including business flying.

Along with the new alerts, the safety board is developing short videos to complement each of the alerts. Each video will feature one of the regional NTSB air safety investigators sharing first-hand lessons learned from the many accident investigations they’ve conducted. “[Also they’ll have] advice on how pilots and mechanics can avoid mistakes that have such tragic consequences,” the NTSB said in a statement.

“Making the information available as short videos online is an astute move on the board’s part,” said Barfield. “Everybody wants to consume knowledge on a channel that they choose. For some, a written safety alert is good; some might want it in a magazine article, and for others it’s a two-minute video clip on YouTube. That’s where they find the impact.”

In announcing the new alerts, Hersman noted that investigators look at each of the roughly 1,500 GA accidents that occur every year and see the same type of accidents over and over. “What’s especially tragic is that so many of these accidents are entirely preventable,” she said.

In an NTSB hearing on GA safety held June 19 and 20, 2012, board analysts stated that the two safest segments of GA were business flying, with an accident rate of about two accidents per 100,000 hours, and corporate flying, with an accident rate close to zero. Personal GA flying accident rates range up to 12 accidents per 100,000 flight hours.

Barfield pointed to NBAA’s long commitment to aviation safety, stretching back to 1953 when the Association established the Flying Safety Awards Program.