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Young Professionals: Consider Career Paths in Safety Roles

FAA’s codification of safety management systems (SMS) for business aviation is increasing the number of safety specialties in business aviation – and increasing the number of job opportunities in the industry.

“Gone are the days that your SMS program can be a binder on the shelf that you check when something goes wrong,” says Timothy Wade, director of environmental, health and safety at fractional operator Flexjet.

“When safety is managed well, there is quite a bit of overlap with overall business management logic,” says Kellie N. Roby, CAM, vice president of safety services at Polaris Aero.

Safety, she says, “is a great way to dip your toe into higher-level management meetings to see if that is a fit for your future.”

“Most safety teams are tied to multiple other areas of the business.”

Timothy Wade Director of Environmental, Health and Safety, Flexjet

“Safety is synonymous with service,” says Wade. He cites time management and open communication as key safety skill sets.

“Most safety teams,” Wade says, “are tied to multiple other areas of the business. Daily task lists are essential, but the prioritization of that task list changes constantly with new information. You must remain flexible.

“Communication is a large part of maintaining trust in the safety program. Employees need to know their voices are heard when they take the time and courage to report.”

“Understanding the requirements and recommendations/best practices for safety systems is a good baseline,” Roby agrees. “Being able to effectively communicate with your team while still completing the mission at hand is imperative.”

“Adopt a learning leader mentality,” she says. “There are always new things to learn on the safety front.” Roby sits on NBAA’s Professional Development Program Review Committee, and PDP is key.

Unlike college courses, Wade notes, “PDP courses are created by those in the field.”

He says veteran pilots and maintainers at Flexjet “pass down their knowledge that they have developed over the years, to bring up the next generation.”

NBAA offers a new online Safety Manager Certificate program for business aviation personnel assigned with safety management responsibilities.

“Safety is important in all that we do,” says Jenny Showalter, founder and chief motivational officer with Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching. “Business aviation,” she says, “is all about safety. The ability to specialize in something like safety is part of what draws people to our industry.”

Review details about NBAA’s Safety Manager Certificate Program at

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