NBAA's Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE)

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Safety Culture Considerations for Single Pilots and Small Flight Departments

Oct. 9, 2017

Learning to develop a single-pilot safety culture that doesn’t lose sight of the human element was the focus of this year’s NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown, held the day before the opening of NBAA’s 2017 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas, NV. Presenters discussed how a pilot’s assumptions and native culture can affect their ability to operate more safely.

Safety expert Tricia Coffman, who lost her husband in an aviation accident in 2005, discussed the need to reframe aviation safety issues in more human terms. For example, she encouraged attendees to think of reducing aircraft accidents more as reducing human tragedies and not simply as accident statistics.

“We don’t have a job – we have a mission,” added Paulo Ribeiro, head of safety, Central/North America and the Caribbean for Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. “Our mission is to make aviation safer.”

Ribeiro shared how cultural differences and context can impact aviation safety. For example, he said that stress, such as that experienced during an emergency in the cockpit, typically results in an individual reverting to their native culture, including language, assumptions and attitudes.

He encouraged single-pilot operators to learn more about and come to understand their native culture so they can predict and even improve their response to an emergency in the cockpit.

Aaron McCarter, aviation safety investigator at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), shared accident data regarding loss of control in flight as a top cause of single-pilot accidents. McCarter also recounted a single-pilot accident scenario to demonstrate how an accident chain can unfold.

“You have to understand how you can be affected by flying alone,” said McCarter. “You need to know what resources are available to you, and you always have to fly the airplane first.”

Dan Ramirez, director of safety at XO Jet, explained the NBAA Safety Committee’s new work on single-pilot safety data analysis, which aims to help NBAA develop safety resources for single-pilot operators in a proactive manner.

“How do we apply existing safety tools to single-pilot operations, particularly in high-performance aircraft?” said Ramirez. “That’s the new work of the Single-Pilot Subcommittee of the NBAA Safety Committee.”

Ramirez laid out the group’s plan for customizing safety tools and resources for single-pilot and small flight department operators and encouraged single-pilot operators to share safety data through aircraft type organizations, the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing program or other means.

NBAA webcast the 2017 Single-Pilot Safety Standdown online for those unable to make it to Las Vegas in person.

View the archived 2017 NBAA Single-Pilot Safety Standdown webcast.

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