Symposium Tackles Unique Safety, Business Challenges of Small Flight Departments
Oct. 11, 2021
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg provided an update on recent Part 91 accidents and shared what small flight departments can do to decrease the accident rate at the NBAA Small Operator Symposium, held prior to the opening of the 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).
Landsberg shared his frustration with the Part 91 operations accident rate, but acknowledged the challenges in improving safety in this area of aviation, where there are many more variables than most of commercial aviation. He encouraged attendees to be conservative in their performance calculations and planning to mitigate the risks associated with these variables.
Landsberg said he is not an advocate of a regulatory mandate for SMS (safety management systems) for Part 91 operations, explaining SMS by the FAA’s regulations and guidance is not completely scalable. No person is able to accurately assess his or her own performance, he said, so traditional SMS processes are ineffective for small Part 91 operators.
Dylan Miller, co-founder of the popular 21.Five Professional Pilots podcast, moderated the interactive symposium, in which other panelists tackled the unique challenges of small flight departments, including developing a scalable SMS, budgeting, workforce retention and communication.
Panelists Joe Samudovsky of Brandt, Co., Jason Herman, current chair of NBAA’s Domestic Operations Committee, Erika Armstrong of Advanced Aircrew Academy and Dave Keys, chair of NBAA’s Small Flight Department Subcommittee, provided steps for developing SMS tools with the special nuances of a one- or two-crewmember operation in mind.
Jim Lara, of Gray Stone Advisors; Angel Houck, of Houck & Christensen CPAs; Keys and Samovdusky shared tips for small flight department budgeting, workforce retention and communication.
NBAA Senior Vice President of Safety, Security, Sustainability and International Operations Doug Carr shared some of the association’s current initiatives, noting the top five advocacy pillars of safety, infrastructure investment, sustainability, innovation and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion.
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