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Single-Pilot Safety Standdown Provides Vital Information

Atlanta, GA, October 19, 2010

Those who attended the Cessna/NBAA 2nd Annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown on October 18 received a wealth of useful information and advice. The session was offered as part of an NBAA initiative to provide more educational programming for light business airplane (LBA) operators attending the Convention. With safety being the industry's highest priority, starting the show with a Safety Standdown "sets the tone for the entire Convention and is the right thing to do," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who welcomed the Attendees.

A Focus on Peer-to-Peer Sharing

Dan Grace of Cessna opened the session by raising several issues to ponder, including when not to operate single-pilot, suggesting that aviators need to know their limitations. While noting there is "no simple solution, no single answer, no one-size-fits-all," Grace said single-pilot operator safety could be improved through "cultural change, education and acknowledgement."

John Carroll, the FAA Safety Team leader for the agency's Southern Region, said the most common operational problems he sees are runway incursions and altitude and airspace deviations, many of which can be traced to pilots incorrectly inputting data into avionics. "You have to be your own safety net. Check and re-check," he recommended.

Several Standdown participants shared with Carroll their perceived safety problems with the ATC system, including controllers changing clearances on initial climbout, which adds to a pilot's workload during a critical phase of flight. Carroll suggested that aviators should not hesitate to ask controllers for help when they are busy.

Managing Resources for Safety

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University's Michele Halleran offered a primer on single-pilot resource management (SRM). Observing that single-pilot operators have a 1.6 times greater probability of being involved in an accident, she suggested that pilots can reduce risks by:

  • Using automation to reduce workload/increase awareness
  • Utilizing multifunction displays to maintain terrain awareness
  • Asking passengers to share workload/monitor environment
  • Asking controllers to lighten the pilot's workload by, for example, providing final approach vectors.

Halleran also recommended that pilots prioritize tasks. "If we can't do everything well, at least get the important things right." Finally, she said aviators should practice SRM on every flight and critique their own performance afterward.

Dr. Quay Snyder of Aviation Medicine Advisory Service provided an update on FAA policy regarding pilots who have driven under the influence, suffer from sleep apnea, are taking antidepressant medications or have falsified or failed to report certain medical conditions that could ground them. In addition, Snyder detailed fatigue mitigation strategies for pilots.

Baldwin Aviation President Don Baldwin extolled the benefits of safety management systems for single pilots, noting that defining and mitigating threats is especially important for these self-reliant aviators.

Icing expert Pat Cannon warned of the dangers of this metrological phenomenon, declaring:

  • All icing conditions should be treated with respect
  • Never fly in icing conditions with lack of, or inoperative, icing equipment
  • Continued flight into icing conditions is unwise
  • If inadvertent icing conditions are encountered, immediately begin to devise a way out
  • Never take off with ice on any flying surface.

Listen to a related podcast from the Single-Pilot Safety Standdown.

The Cessna Single-Pilot Safety Standdown complements the Light Business Airplane Conference programming being offered at this week's NBAA Convention in conjunction with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Learn more about the LBA Conference at