Interacting with a professional lifts our mood and leaves us impressed. Encountering unprofessional behavior, on the other hand, might leave us feeling shortchanged, upset, disenfranchised and maybe even bewildered.
What’s behind those different outcomes? Your perceptions are just that — yours — so it’s worth reflecting on what hallmarks of professionalism most impact you. That way, you’ll be motivated to consistently project those qualities in your business aviation and personal activities.
Review the answers to frequently asked questions below, which include examples of unprofessional behavior.
NBAA’s Safety Committee wants to hear what professionalism in business aviation means to you. Share your questions and comments using this form.
Why do we need a focus on professionalism in business aviation? Why is it important?
The Safety Committee has identified three main reasons professionalism should be a top safety focus area for business aviation.
1. First, improved professionalism can have an immediate and positive impact on aviation safety. A professionalism initiative is a comparatively low cost/high gain proposition that can:
- Increase transparency, information sharing and self-correcting behavior
- Prevent egregious acts of unprofessional behavior
2. Improved professionalism can also elevate business aviation’s reputation now and into the future by:
- Earning the confidence, trust and support of the public, regulators and customers
- Attracting the best people to become business aviation’s next generation
- Setting new standards for managers to use in mentoring their people and recognizing achievement
3. Finally, improved professionalism can shift the industry’s focus beyond surviving to leading and thriving by:
- Developing a pool of critically-thinking professionals
- Engaging industry volatility (fuel prices, economy, politics, etc.) with relevant skill sets
- Moving ahead of opportunities and threats, e.g., “instant-information era” challenges; training advancements; new regulations; NextGen implementation
Are there tools available to help me assess my own and my organization’s level of professionalism?
Professionalism can be evaluated on both a personal and organizational level to improve aviation safety, efficiency and profitability. Learn more in the
Have unprofessional behaviors caused accidents and incidents? What does unprofessional behavior in aviation look like?
The following are several documented instances of unprofessional behavior in aviation:
1. Crash During Attempted Go-Around After Landing – East Coast Jets Flight 81
On July 31, 2008, at about 9:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time, East Coast Jets Flight 81, a Hawker Beechcraft Corporation 125-800A airplane, N818MV, crashed while attempting to go around after landing on Runway 30 at Owatonna Degner Regional Airport, Owatonna, MN. The two pilots and six passengers were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The nonscheduled, domestic passenger flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed and activated; however, it was canceled before the landing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The safety issues discussed in the NTSB report relate to the following: flight crew actions; lack of SOPs requirements for Part 135 operators, including CRM training and checklist usage; go-around guidance for turbine-powered aircraft; Part 135 preflight weather briefings; pilot fatigue and sleep disorders; inadequate arrival landing distance assessment guidance and requirements.
2. Loss of Control on Approach — Colgan Air, Inc. Continental Connection Flight 3407
On Feb. 12, 2009, about 10:17 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, a Colgan Air, Inc. Bombardier DHC-8-400, N200WQ, operating as Continental Connection Flight 3407, was on an instrument approach to Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, Buffalo, NY, when it crashed into a residence in Clarence Center, NY, about five nautical miles northeast of the airport. The two pilots, two flight attendants and 45 passengers aboard the airplane were killed, one person on the ground was killed and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 121. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain’s inappropriate response to the activation of the stick shaker, which led to an aerodynamic stall from which the airplane did not recover. Contributing to the accident were:
- The flight crew’s failure to monitor airspeed in relation to the rising position of the lowspeed cue
- The flight crew’s failure to adhere to sterile cockpit procedures
- The captain’s failure to effectively manage the flight
- Colgan Air’s inadequate procedures for airspeed selection and management during approaches in icing conditions.
The safety issues discussed in the NTSB report focus on strategies to prevent flight crew monitoring failures, pilot professionalism, fatigue, remedial training, pilot training records, airspeed selection procedures, stall training, FAA oversight, flight operational quality assurance programs, use of personal portable electronic devices on the flight deck, the FAA’s use of safety alerts for operators to transmit safety-critical information and weather information provided to pilots. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were addressed to the FAA.
One of the NTSB recommendations was to develop and distribute to all pilots multimedia guidance materials on professionalism in aircraft operations that contain standards of performance for professionalism; best practices for sterile cockpit adherence; techniques for assessing and correcting pilot deviations; examples and scenarios; and a detailed review of accidents involving breakdowns in sterile cockpit and other procedures, including this accident. Additional recommendations were to obtain the input of operators and air carrier and general aviation pilot groups in the development and distribution of these guidance materials. (A-10-15) (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A-07-8).
3. Attempted Takeoff From Wrong Runway — Comair Flight 5191
On Aug. 27, 2006, about 6:06 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Comair Flight 5191, a Bombardier CL-600-2B19, N431CA, crashed during takeoff from Blue Grass Airport, Lexington, KY. The flight crew was instructed to take off from Runway 22 but instead lined up the airplane on Runway 26 and began the takeoff roll. The airplane ran off the end of the runway and impacted the airport perimeter fence, trees and terrain. The captain, flight attendant and 47 passengers were killed, and the first officer received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 121 and was en route to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, GA. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew’s failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location on the airport surface during taxi and their failure to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s nonpertinent conversation during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness, and the FAA’s failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific ATC clearances.
4. Crash of Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701
On Oct. 14, 2004, at about 10:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701 (doing business as Northwest Airlink), a Bombardier CL-600-2B19, N8396A, crashed into a residential area about two and a half miles south of Jefferson City Memorial Airport, Jefferson City, MO. The airplane was on a repositioning flight from Little Rock National Airport, Little Rock, AR, to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, MN. During the flight, both engines flamed out after a pilot-induced aerodynamic stall and were unable to be restarted. The captain and the first officer were killed, and the airplane was destroyed. No one on the ground was injured. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The NTSB determined that the probable causes of this accident were:
- The pilots’ unprofessional behavior, deviation from standard operating procedures and poor airmanship, which resulted in an in-flight emergency from which they were unable to recover, in part because of the pilots’ inadequate training
- The pilots’ failure to prepare for an emergency landing in a timely manner, including communicating with air traffic controllers immediately after the emergency about the loss of both engines and the availability of landing sites
- The pilots’ improper management of the double engine failure checklist, which allowed the engine cores to stop rotating and resulted in the core lock engine condition
Contributing to this accident were:
- The core lock engine condition, which prevented at least one engine from being restarted
- The airplane flight manuals that did not communicate to pilots the importance of maintaining a minimum airspeed to keep the engine cores rotating
The safety issues discussed in this report focus on flight crew training in the areas of high altitude climbs, stall recognition and recovery, and double engine failures; flight crew professionalism; and the quality of some parameters recorded by flight data recorders on regional jet airplanes. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were addressed to the FAA.
5. Runway Overrun and Collision — Platinum Jet Management/Darby Aviation
On Feb. 2, 2005, at about 7:18 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, a Bombardier Challenger CL-600-1A11, N370V, ran off the departure end of Runway 6 at Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, NJ, at a ground speed of about 110 knots, through an airport perimeter fence, across a six-lane highway (where it struck a vehicle) and into a parking lot before impacting a building. The two pilots were seriously injured, as were two occupants in the vehicle. The cabin aide, eight passengers and one person in the building received minor injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire.
The accident flight was an on-demand passenger charter flight from TEB to Chicago Midway Airport, Chicago, IL. The flight was subject to the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135 and operated by Platinum Jet Management, LLC (PJM), Fort Lauderdale, FL, under the auspices of a charter management agreement with Darby Aviation (Darby), Muscle Shoals, AL. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
Contributing to the accident were:
- PJM’s conduct of charter flights (using PJM pilots and airplanes) without proper FAA certification and its failure to ensure that all for-hire flights were conducted in accordance with 14 CFR Part 135 requirements
- Darby Aviation’s failure to maintain operational control over 14 CFR Part 135 flights being conducted under its certificate by PJM, which resulted in an environment conducive to the development of systemic patterns of flight crew performance deficiencies like those observed in this accident.
NBAA’s Safety Committee wants to hear what professionalism in business aviation means to you.
NBAA will continue to update this page with more answers to frequently asked questions as they are received.