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Have you considered your safety risks?

David Ryan, chairman of the NBAA Safety Committee, outlines the five main considerations for improving safety in business aviation operations

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) recently published its annual list of Top Safety Focus Areas for business aircraft operators (read the story here). These topics were identified as primary risk areas for business aircraft operators, as a proactive measure by the NBAA Safety Committee, and many of the topics are relevant for all segments of aviation. It’s worthwhile for all aviation organizations to consider the Top Safety Focus Areas with some particularly applicable to airports, FBOs and other segments of the industry.

Here are five areas to consider as you work to improve safety at your airport, at your FBO or within your flight operation:

1. Positive safety culture
Take an honest look at the culture of your organization. If an error is made, is the mistake reported for correction or hidden to avoid punitive action? Are your policies and procedures written to mitigate risk and promote safety? If not, consider strategies to encourage active reporting of hazards and errors without reprisal, and draft policies and procedures that encourage safe operations and proactively mitigate the risks in your organization.

2. Runway excursions 
Runway excursions continue to be a top concern for business aircraft operators. Accurate, timely field condition reports, issued by the airport or FBO or with information provided by pilots, can be vital in mitigating the risk of a runway excursion. Does your operation provide runway condition reports? Encourage thorough and frequent field condition reports, especially during adverse weather conditions.

3. Ground-handling and taxi incidents 
Ground-handling and taxi incidents continue to be one of the most frustrating and expensive safety concerns for business aircraft operators. Evaluate the ground-handling and taxi policies and procedures in your own organization. Are they conducive to safe operations? Is crew time available to assure ground handling oversight? Are your personnel properly trained to ensure safe ground-handling and taxi activity, based on all the available airport and FBO services information? No two destinations are the same. Know before you go. Focus on preventing ground-handling and taxi incidents to improve aviation system-wide.

4. Procedural compliance 
Developing policies and procedures that encourage safe operations is just one step in mitigating risk and ensuring safety. Do your personnel consistently follow your policies and procedures? If policies and procedures are regularly ignored, the intended mitigation is ineffective. Evaluate your personnel and your own actions. Are written policies and procedures consistently followed or are they considered optional? If they are not followed consistently, consider why that is the case. Are staff not appropriately trained? Are the policies and procedures poorly written or inadequate or overly cumbersome for the task?

5. Safety data sharing and utilization 
Business aviation as an industry has found great value in collecting and sharing data. In fact, the Top Safety Focus Areas are identified through shared data sources. While sharing data industry-wide is helpful, don’t forget to look at your operation, including any identified hazards, and implement your own risk mitigation.

Consider these five areas in relation to your own operation. Ask yourself how your organization performs in relation to these topics and implement strategies to improve. Then ask yourself what other unique risks apply to your organization, and develop and implement solutions to address those issues.

In addition to the Top Safety Focus Areas, everyone in aviation should be dedicated to the five Foundations of Safety, which are professionalism, safety leadership, technical excellence, risk management and fitness for duty. These core values are the foundation of all safe operations and should be adopted as the basis of your organization’s culture.


About the author
David Ryan serves as chairman of the NBAA Safety Committee, in addition to his roles as director of flight operations for a US West Coast-based medical services company, and president of fixed-base operator Crownair Aviation at Montgomery Field Airport in San Diego, California.



February 27, 2018



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