NBAA’s Safety Committee Redefining VLJ “Mentor Pilot,” Pursuing New Initiatives

ORLANDO, FL, October 6, 2008 – Now that very light jets (VLJs) have been in service for some time, NBAA’s Safety Committee, which met Saturday in conjunction with NBAA2008, has decided that it is time to revisit Section 3.5.1 of the NBAA Training Guidelines for Single-Pilot Operations of Very Light Jets and Technically Advanced Aircraft to see how advice for “mentor pilots” can be improved based on operational experience. Using input provided by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and others, the NBAA Safety Committee hopes to produce a rewrite by yearend.

NBAA’s VLJ Training Guidelines outlines a minimum curriculum the Association believes is necessary to satisfy a VLJ transition and recurrent training program. VLJs are commonly understood to be jet aircraft weighing 10,000 lbs. or less (a distinction below the traditional regulatory definition of light aircraft weighing 12,500 lbs. or less), and certificated for single-pilot operations. The guidelines also may be applicable to single-pilot certified aircraft other than VLJs which share similar levels of automation.

Changes to be made to Section 3.5.1 of the Training Guidelines will attempt to address the basic instrument proficiency lacking in some prospective VLJ pilots. Also, efforts will be made to better define training outcomes, to explain the concept of “personal minimums” and to address the unique challenges of operating into airports with short runways and inhospitable nearby terrain.

A separate new project that the Safety Committee is undertaking at the request of Federal Aviation Administration officials is to provide input for an update of the agency’s advisory circular on how to plan for sporting events that draw large numbers of aircraft (AC 00-61). Prompted in part by the 2004 crash of a King Air operated by a NASCAR race team, the rewrite will attempt to apply operational best practices for both ground and air operations, thereby enhancing safety at smaller airports not accustomed to handling a large number of aircraft in a short period of time.

Of all the Safety Committee’s recent accomplishments, members are particularly proud of their role in bringing former Safety Committee member and current National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt to NBAA2008. Sumwalt, the former manager of aviation for the SCANA Corporation, a Fortune 500 energy-based company, will be the featured speaker at the Safety Town Hall meeting, which will be held Tuesday from 9:00 a.m to 10:30 a.m. in room S310E of the Orange County Convention Center. Sumwalt will speak about the advantages to flight departments of adopting a safety management system (SMS) and will explain how operators involved in some high-profile accidents could have averted disaster if they had had an SMS in place.

NBAA’s Standing Committees work together on behalf of the NBAA Membership to promote business aviation safety, access, professional development, operational excellence and security. To learn more, visit, or apply for NBAA Standing Committee membership at

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