The business aviation community has played an indispensable role in making aviation the safest form of transportation in the world, but recently, the topic of safety has been particularly front and center.
At the first House of Representatives hearing this year on upcoming FAA reauthorization, I had the opportunity to share the idea that safety is not a destination, it’s a journey that we pursue every day.
A few weeks later, I joined other aviation industry leaders at a rare FAA Safety Summit that was prompted by a series of runway incursions. The summit and resulting FAA SAFO serve as a reminder that complacency is our enemy and vigilance is our responsibility.
Safety is much more than a simple talking point, it’s a core value that should evolve in concert with a number of factors in view, including developing technologies. Business aviation has a long tradition of leading the way on safety technology, including development of systems like GPS, airborne collision-avoidance systems and enhanced vision systems.
On the other side of the same coin, technologies are constantly introduced to the industry from external sources, and it’s up to us to keep pace. For example, in 2015 NBAA and a coalition of aviation stakeholders raised detailed safety concerns about potential 5G interference with radio altimeters. We continue advocating for improved safety on that and many other technology issues.
NBAA’s Safety Committee, one of our longest-standing committees, has built a legacy of identifying the latest industry safety concerns – including and well beyond those related to technology – and providing tools and resources to effectively address those concerns. The committee’s important work complements standdowns and other safety events by pilot organizations and regional business aviation groups, which also have NBAA’s support.
In the policy arena, most recently the FAA has proposed new safety management system (SMS) mandates extending beyond airlines to many business aviation operations. Business aviation has frequently supported initiatives to enhance safety, as long as they’re scalable to a diverse group of operational profiles.
The proposal raises concerns along these lines, adding or expanding existing requirements, often without regard to operational size or type. In response, NBAA has helped our industry mobilize, with an online advocacy tool that facilitates direct comments about the SMS proposal to the public docket. The response has been robust, and as of this writing, NBAA is awaiting word on the agency’s next steps.
Looking ahead, safety will continue to be our highest priority at NBAA and industry-wide. The upcoming FAA reauthorization will require new ways of thinking about safety to prepare for complex systems, including new entrants, new technologies, new flight-mission profiles and infrastructure.
With continued vigilance on our safety journey, we stand ready to meet that challenge.