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Kern Award Winner Dave Ryan: A Career of Promoting Safety

Dec. 22, 2021/date]

Twenty-five years ago, Dave Ryan – then a safety captain and demonstration pilot at Bombardier Aerospace/Learjet, along with his director and other teammates – organized a one-day safety seminar where they actually ‘stood down’ from operations. The intent was for the team and others at Learjet to focus on their professional and safety development. After a couple of years of their internal standdown training, some Learjet customers were invited to attend. The rest is history.

Today, it would be difficult to find anyone in the business aviation industry who isn’t familiar with Bombardier’s Safety Standdown, which has attracted about 500 attendees annually and is considered one of the most respected safety events in business aviation. Ryan is proud of the success of Safety Standdown, which is just one of his many contributions to business aviation safety.

Ryan – who is retiring at the end of 2021 after almost 14 years as vice president of aviation at MI Aviation Holdings in San Diego and is a 2021 recipient of the prestigious NBAA Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation award – finds it ironic how things have come full circle.

“Tony was one of the foundational speakers we had for the standdown,” he said. “And to this day, Tony remains one of my mentors.

“Safety has really been a focus for me,” continued Ryan. “Anything we can do to help promote safety – especially at the grass-roots level – is so important.” He served eight years on NBAA’s Safety Committee, two of them as chair, and more than 10 years on the board of the Southern California Aviation Association and its safety committee. With his current teammates, he sets the bar high for a department with multiple aircraft and fosters teamwork among the staff.

“We have a cross-training program where everybody augments their primary job by taking on two to three collateral duties,” noted Ryan. “For every role we have a back-up. This also really helps with professional development and succession planning.”

As a senior air safety investigator with Cessna back in the 1990s, Ryan discovered that he had a passion for wanting to go beyond the investigations to trying to prevent the issues that led to accidents themselves.

“I wanted to be more on the front end, more proactive, and focus on the knowledge skills that are essential for safe operations,” he said. “I’m happy we have reached some of the audience, but we have to keep spreading the word and keep the crusade moving forward.”

Ryan will be doing just that in his next chapter. He’s joining the faculty of the College of Aviation, Safety Sciences Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott, where he is excited to be sharing his experience with students and instilling a safety consciousness at the grass roots level.

“I’m looking forward to furthering the safety message with the future aviation professionals of our industry.”

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Seven individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2021. Created in 2015 to honor Dr. Tony Kern, this peer-nominated award recognizes individual pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who excel in leadership in the areas of professional ethics, vocational excellence, continuous improvement, professional engagement, professional image and selflessness.

Learn more about the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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