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Inside NBAA’s Laser Focus on Safety

The NBAA Safety Committee has been shining a light on the importance of business aviation safety for 70 years. Committee leaders pull back the curtain on the careful consideration given to its critical work aimed at always putting safety first.

Founded in 1954 as one of the association’s first standing committees, the NBAA Safety Committee has remained true to its mission of making business aviation safer. Each year the committee’s team of dedicated volunteers actively digs for solutions to some of business aviation’s most pressing safety challenges, such as loss of control, procedural non-compliance, runway excursions and the unique risks surrounding single-pilot operations, to name just a few.

As risks to business aviation are identified, the safety committee is positioned as a center of expertise, analyzing industry data and findings to shape the scope of the NBAA’s Top Safety Focus Areas.

Recently, the committee strategic planning session, with topical input from NBAA’s senior leadership, pinpointed addressing preventable accidents, identifying unique operational concerns and developing mitigation strategies.

Over the years, the safety committee’s efforts have borne considerable fruit producing well-researched solutions that are available to association members through the NBAA’s website as well as the aviation world at large through webinars, magazine articles, podcasts and videos. But before heading over to the website to search for the latest news about fitness for duty or safety management systems (SMS), it’s important to better understand the process the committee uses to create and validate their work.

As safety topics have evolved, so too have the committee’s leadership team and the operational protocols designed to secure the best from the committee’s efforts. “We operate on a two-year safety cycle, taking a holistic look at the industry each year to validate or evolve our safety focus,” said NBAA Safety Committee Chair Paul BJ Ransbury. “Our annual strategic planning process looks at data from not just the NTSB, but from insurance organizations, the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) and a diversity of other safety-focused industry sources.”

The NBAA Safety Committee “doesn’t necessarily have the same mandate as the NTSB or the FAA,” Ransbury said. “Ours is to develop tools and resources to improve the safety of business aviation. We serve the senior leadership of NBAA, the association’s members, and the aviation industry overall.”

“This ensures our 80-member committee efficiently and effectively focuses its bandwidth to generate timely and truly valuable deliverables to improve aviation safety.”

Paul BJ Ransbury, Chair, NBAA Safety Committee

Top Safety Focus Areas

One of the challenging aspects of the committee’s work each year is narrowing the list of possible topics down to 10-12 Top Safety Focus Areas. “This ensures our 80-member committee efficiently and effectively focuses its bandwidth to generate timely and truly valuable deliverables to improve aviation safety,“ Ransbury said.

One of several important lessons the committee and leaders have learned over the past year is, “We can’t work on everything, which means we have to say no to good ideas and even some great ideas, just to be sure that we get done what we’re committed to working on,” said Ransbury.

The What and the How

To improve the likelihood of success, the safety committee leadership team created a working structure that brings together some of the aviation industry’s brightest minds.

Committee Vice Chair Dan Boedigheimer explained a bit about how the group works their magic. The committee is comprised of team leads, “who each oversee four working groups. Each working group is responsible for one of the Top Safety Focus Areas.”

For example, “the preventable accidents team includes Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), ground operations and maintenance accidents, loss of control and the runway safety working groups. The operational concerns team focuses on fitness for duty, human factors, single pilot safety and workforce challenges. The final safety focus area includes mitigation strategies, owner support of safety expenditures, safety data and the SMS implementation working group,” Boedigheimer said.

Before the committee begins work on any topic, members of NBAA’s senior leadership team are consulted to ensure each topic, and its possible deliverable, is something the association believes is needed within the industry. Depending upon the topic, the working groups meet as often as the members feel is necessary to accomplish their goal on time.

The committee also works closely with the safety promotion team to communicate their research and operational results in the best way possible to be usable by the aviation community.

“The SMS group does a lot of presentations. They’re trying to focus on the smaller operators with advice on how to make SMS programs effective in those departments.”

Dan Boedigheimer, Vice Chair, NBAA Safety Committee

Delivering Excellence

The pride and joy of the committee and its working groups each year are the deliverables that highlight each group’s addition to industry professionalism.

The list of products the committee has delivered just over the past decade alone is nearly as long as the scope of each topic is wide. Boedigheimer mentioned a few, such as the output from the Runway Safety Working Group, “an eight- to 10-page runway excursion mitigation guide. That guide resides on the NBAA website. Most of the working groups maintain a page on the association’s website.”

Other results are delivered as presentations often rolled out at NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) or the association’s conferences and regional forums. Boedigheimer said, “The SMS group does a lot of presentations. They’re trying to focus on the smaller operators with advice on how to make SMS programs effective in those departments.”

The single pilot safety working group created a video – “Alone in the Cockpit” – focused on the decisions one pilot made that almost led to an accident in a Phenom 100. Boedigheimer added, “The safety data working group just wrapped up a multi-year project and created an impressive website that’s focused on what’s important when it comes to safety data.”

The working group created full questions and answers about the various components of narrative safety reporting, such as an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) as well as the barriers to entry. It includes guidance on how to evaluate if a program is right for a specific flight department.

The human factors working group has been focused on a procedural compliance document. The working group is creating deliverables from that document that will focus on the steps an individual flight department might take to convince individuals of the importance of following standard operating procedures.

The most well-attended of the committee’s presentations, the Single-Pilot Safety Standdown (SPSSD) and the National Safety Forum have become regulars at NBAA-BACE each fall. The SPSSD runs on the Monday before NBAA-BACE begins and includes real-world topics presented by subject matter experts.

This year’s National Safety Forum will be rolled out in four different one-hour sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the 2024 NBAA-BACE, Oct. 22-24, Boedigheimer said. One session is planned on data sharing or data collection from the committee’s safety data working group, one on SMS, another from the operational concerns team and another from the preventable accidents team. A Thursday morning session includes the presentation of the Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism Awards.

“I get more than I give to the safety committee. I have grown a lot professionally, watching different leadership styles and how the committee deals with roadblocks along the way. It's given me a lot of tools in my own leader toolbox.”

Dan Boedigheimer, Vice Chair, NBAA Safety Committee

Rewarding Journey

For safety committee volunteers, the journey can sometimes become the reward with unexpected personal benefits for their efforts, said Boedigheimer. “I really love the connections and the people I’ve met and what I’ve been able to learn. I get more than I give to the safety committee,” Boedigheimer said. “I have grown a lot professionally, watching different leadership styles and how the committee deals with roadblocks along the way. It’s given me a lot of tools in my own leader toolbox.”

One volunteer, a director of maintenance, offered a perspective to why he’s spent years volunteering. “I believe strongly in giving back to the industry and the aviation community, and the NBAA Safety Committee provides a platform for improving the industry in which we work. From a maintenance standpoint quality is safety.”

He added, “Seeing the fruits of your labors that are really giving back to the industry were very gratifying. Of course, a good safety committee depends on people willing to take the time and energy to collaborate and make things happen.”

Ransbury offered some advice for anyone interested in seeing how the safety committee’s results might fit into their own flight department, as well as for people who might be interested in joining the safety committee’s volunteer ranks.

Review the work of NBAA’s Safety Committee at

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