Jan. 17, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its “Most Wanted” list of transportation improvements for 2014, with three of the 10 focus areas having application to business aviation.

Two of the priorities on the 2014 list – eliminating distractions caused by personal electronic devices (PEDs) and identifying and communicating hazardous weather to general aviation pilots – are areas addressed by NBAA’s Safety Committee in its Top 10 safety focus areas, noted committee Chairman Eric Barfield.

“Professionalism and the commitment to operational discipline, standards, and continuous improvement, as well as fully embracing a proactive culture of safety, address these same priorities in a strategic way,” said Barfield. “The Safety Committee has worked hard to communicate the importance of incorporating these safety practices into the goals and mission statements of Member Company flight departments,” he added.

“When it comes to eliminating distractions, we totally support what the NTSB calls ‘PED-Free transportation operations,’” said Barfield. “We advance that agenda tactically through two dedicated areas in NBAA’s Top 10 – No. 1: The impact of technology and No. 2: Task saturation: whether you’re flying or fixing an airplane, focus on the task at hand.”

In 2014, the NTSB will focus its general aviation advocacy in the area of hazardous weather, noting that in 2011 weather was a factor in 1,466 accidents that resulted in 444 deaths. In this effort, the NTSB is calling for better access to, and better understanding of, weather information by both pilots and air traffic controllers.

NBAA addresses this issue through its focus on airmanship skills and light business airplane safety, said Barfield. This includes the Single-Pilot Safety Standdown, which is held annually at NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.

“Our subject matter experts are working to support what the NTSB advocates, part of which is appropriate training on how to get and use the proper information for dealing with hazardous weather,” Barfield said.

The Safety Committee’s talent pipeline focus area, which centers on attracting, mentoring and developing the next generation of business aviators, is another area that supports NTSB’s PED-free priority. “This is how we change the culture and shift expectations that using a PED during work is unacceptable,” said Barfield. “We want to train them as safe professionals.”

Much of the NBAA Safety Committee’s Top 10 safety focus areas also apply to helicopter operations, which the NTSB has added as a new item on this year’s “Most Wanted” list. NTSB has called for increased awareness and training among rotorcraft manufacturers and operators, and regulatory agencies.

“Helicopters play a vital role in our industry,” noted Peter Korns, operations specialist with NBAA. “They provide additional access for business aircraft operators while also supporting important missions such as emergency medical transportation, law enforcement activities, and search and rescue efforts.”

Ultimately, aviation safety is an ongoing and collaborative effort. Just as the NTSB updates its Top 10 Most Wanted list each year, so, too, does NBAA.

Barfield noted that the NBAA Safety Committee will hold its annual risk-assessment meeting next month, during which the group will continue to work with the NTSB as the committee updates its Top 10 Safety Focus Areas.

Review NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list.