April 5, 2022

“Every small flight department – from an owner-operator with a piston single to those with a handful of pilots and a couple of jets – is unique,” said Mark Larsen, CAM, NBAA director of safety and flight operations. That’s why NBAA has created the new Small Flight Department Safety Guide, which distills the essential components of a mature safety management system (SMS) into the building blocks for developing a customized solution that will increase the safety and efficiency of small flight departments.

Regardless of an operator’s size, the keys to improved safety are the same – identify the risks, develop the processes and procedures to mitigate them, promote their use, follow them without fail, and continually evaluate their effectiveness. The guide presents them as the four fundamental pillars of safety that small flight departments can employ to increase safety by evaluating and organizing their operations.

In drafting a Safety Policy, the department creates a manual of systematic policies and procedures by documenting how it operates. This increases safety and efficiency because “it’s difficult to know what works or doesn’t work if you do it differently every time.”

Safety Risk Management identifies individual risks and analyzes their acceptability in an operational context to determine the best course of action. Context is critical because, by itself, a risk might be acceptable, but not when joined with another risk.

There are several ways to attain Safety Assurance, but organized briefings before and after every flight are a simple and efficient way to evaluate the effectiveness of tools, procedures and processes. If they are not working, says the guide, “adjust as necessary.”

Finally, Safety Promotion tools remind and motivate department members why they have risk management protocols. Developing tools, procedures, and processes will not improve safety if they are not rigorously employed.

With the ability to customize the protocols to their individual needs and resources, the Small Flight Department Safety Guide doesn’t make SMS any more complicated than it needs to be. And it provides several helpful and additional resources to help smaller operators achieve their safety goals.

Download the Small Flight Department Safety Guide: Pathway to Improving Safety