NBAA Safety Committee

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Five Questions for Incoming NBAA Safety Committee Chairman Steve Charbonneau

Nov. 10, 2015

1. Under your leadership the NBAA Safety Committee has adopted a new structure and process. Can you explain the process and your larger strategic goals?

The mission of the Safety Committee is to promote safety as the cornerstone value of business aviation by identifying significant industry risks and serving as a center of leadership on a range of safety matters. We decided the best way to identify significant risk was to adopt the same systematic approach of risk management we were promoting to our Members. We organized the committee into teams focusing on the core risk-management strategies of leadership and policy, risk assessment and mitigation, promotion and assurance. This new structure enables us to be intentional and deliberate with our efforts to impact safety.

Five Questions for Incoming NBAA Safety Committee Chairman Steve Charbonneau

2. What is the Safety Committee’s value to NBAA Members and its role in the industry?

Our primary value lies in our safety leadership role. Our committee is not only comprised of talented safety leaders and experts; it has the ability to represent the Membership with all of the other stakeholders concerned with business aviation safety. We work with our partners to identify and develop the NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas, and we coordinate and influence action concerning those issues.

3. The Safety Committee has identified loss of control as a top safety issue. Can you explain the importance of this focus area?

At our January 2015 risk assessment meeting, the committee started to use a data-driven approach to identify its top safety issues. It was clear from the data that loss of control – inflight was the most common fatal accident type in business aviation. We need a systematic solution to mitigate this issue, including pilot training, instrumentation improvements, automation solutions, weather hazard awareness and, most importantly, operator risk-management programs. The committee has for years promoted these solutions through the Single-Pilot Safety Working Group, and offered a single-pilot safety stand down annually at the NBAA convention.

Learn more about the 2015 Single Pilot Safety Standdown, set for Nov. 16 at NBAA's Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2015) in Las Vegas.

4. Procedural compliance and pilots’ adherence to standard operating procedures is also getting a lot of attention. What is the committee doing to address this issue?

The NBAA Safety Committee has identified professionalism as the cornerstone focus area of any safety management system in which professional behaviors rule and safe actions follow as a byproduct. Business aviation comprises many types of operations, from large transport-category airplanes to single-engine piston-powered aircraft flown by owner/operators. Fiscal restraint programs ensure that headcounts are not bloated and training budgets are cut to the bone. Airspace complexity and airport congestion issues challenge crews and cause them to develop coping skills, often impacting their primary tasks and affecting their adherence to standard procedures and checklists.

It is critical that we better understand and reverse the trend of accidents caused by non-compliance – our reputations as professionals are at stake. We all have to assume the role of a safety leader and promote strong professional values.

Review the committee’s professionalism resources.

5. We hear a lot about data collection and data-sharing programs being offered to business aircraft operators. How does the Safety Committee view the value of these programs?

The benefit of data collection programs cannot be overstated. Operators need to identify and mitigate their risks before incidents and accidents happen. The benefits of these programs happen when you share your data with your peer groups. Broadening the scope of the operational areas enables departments to see over the horizon – learn from other’s experiences.

While flight-data monitoring programs offer the gold standard, simple flight risk analysis and tracking systems can also provide insights into areas of concern. These programs are excellent tools to build teamwork and trust in a flight department. They focus on issues and hazards, rather than on individuals. Formalizing a data-collection program is the most effective way to achieve a "just safety culture," which is essential for a world-class operation.