2018 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas

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2015 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas

The NBAA Safety Committee has identified the Association’s Top Safety Focus Areas for 2018, highlighting a number of priorities in support of a greater commitment to business aviation safety standards. These safety priorities, grouped into two areas – Top Safety Issues and Foundations for Safety – are intended to help promote safety-enhancing discussions and initiatives within flight departments and among owner-flown operations.

Download a summary version of the 2018 Top Safety Focus Areas (1.1MB, PDF)

Top Safety Issues

Loss of Control Inflight

Loss of Control InflightLoss of Control Inflight (LOC-I) accidents result in more fatalities in business aviation than any other category of accident. The NTSB continues to target the issue on its 2017-2018 “Most Wanted” list of safety improvements, citing its linkage in nearly 50 percent of fixed-wing general aviation accidents from 2008 to 2014. The alarming consistency of catastrophic outcomes in this type of accident make this a targeted issue for safety improvement by the NBAA Safety Committee and aviation professional organizations across the globe. Learn more about this severe threat on NBAA’s new LOC-I information page where you will find a wide variety of resources, expert safety presentations and information on upset prevention and recovery training providers.

Runway Excursions

Runway ExcursionsNearly one third of business aviation accidents are runway excursions, making this the most common type of accident. While often survivable, runway excursions remain a towering safety concern, creating an annual injury and damage toll estimated at $900 million industry-wide. Worse still, most excursions are preventable when crews identify well-known risk factors, adhere to stabilized approach and landing criteria, and use accurate and timely runway condition data. The cultural change necessary to increase the adoption of best practices during approach and landing represents the most difficult challenge still ahead. Review news and resources about runway excursions.

Single-Pilot Operation Safety

Single-Pilot Accident RateAccident rates are consistently higher for single-pilot operated aircraft, where there is a 30% greater likelihood of being involved in an accident than in aircraft flown with a dual-pilot crew. Single-pilot business aviators generally have a responsibility for the overall enterprise supported by that aircraft, which can often create distractions before, during, and after their flights. Single-pilot operations are more susceptible to task saturation, and when task saturation increases, so too does the number of errors and risk for Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT), for example. Fatigue and other fitness for duty concerns can compound these problems. As the number of complex single-pilot aircraft increases, so does the necessity to arm single-pilot business aviators with risk management tools, communities of safety-minded aviators, training and proficiency all specifically tailored to safely manage single-pilot operations. Find information and resources at NBAA's new Single-Pilot Operations page.

Procedural Compliance

Procedural Non-ComplianceProfessional aviators are duty bound to comply with federal, state, local and international regulations, company policies and manufacturer procedures. Yet challenges to procedural compliance remains a significant contributing factor in aircraft accidents and incidents. Aviation professionals in all vocational categories must become aware of the extent that non-compliance has proliferated in business aviation, identify the causal factors for non-compliance and develop workable solutions that eliminate these events. See more about procedural non-compliance.

Ground Handling and Taxi Incidents

Ground Handling CollisionsWhen considering an aircraft in flight, the importance of vigilance in avoiding collisions with other aircraft is well understood; however, the movement of vehicles and aircraft on non-controlled airport surfaces creates far more damage to aircraft each year, as well as associated damage to vehicles, buildings and fixtures on the airport. While there are few fatalities associated with these collisions, the costs associated with aircraft repairs, including time out of service and diminution of value, are significant. Anyone operating a vehicle or moving an aircraft on the airport surface has a responsibility to exercise increased vigilance to mitigate this hazard. Learn more about hangar and ground safety.

Distraction Management

DistractionDistractions result in a loss of situational awareness and continue to be the most pervasive ‘human’ threat to safety in aircraft and other vehicles. Active distraction management of everything from task interruptions to personal electronic devices, is needed in the assessment of risk, as well as management of threats and errors associated with this hazard. This threat to aviation professionals in all disciplines can be both frequent and hazardous. Business aviation professionals should develop and use sound distraction management procedures to address this issue.

Scenario- and Risk-Based Training and Checking

TrainingIncreased fidelity and quality of training is the mitigation strategy that will make the most positive impact in aviation safety. This new training and checking approach integrates Aeronautical Decision Making and problem solving via scenarios drawn from operator risk profiles. Key to this approach is the need to optimize the balance between learning/checking, and ensuring that learning and checking remains refreshed with the latest identified safety issues. Read about scenario-based Training Management Systems.

Positive Safety Culture Promotion

TrainingMost safety data points to the fundamental importance of a positive safety culture, or the lack thereof. An open and non-punitive reporting environment is paramount to the success of any safety program. Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by open communication, promotion of education and/or continuous improvement, safety promotion within the Safety Management System, and a proactive approach to safety reporting. Overall, safety leadership is key to optimizing safety management systems.

Inflight Aircraft Collision Risk

Airspace ComplexitiesData has shown over the past year an increase in Traffic Collision Avoidance System Traffic Advisories (TAs) and Resolution Advisories (RAs) as overall demand for airspace continues to rise. Weather impacts traffic flow in busy terminal airspace, and the introduction of NextGen technologies, such as complex arrival and departure procedures, can create challenges for aircrew. Pilots must alert to near-miss threats from other aircraft and small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operated outside of current regulations and guidelines. Further, pilots should fly in a way that more effectively arrests climb and descent rates that have the potential to set off “nuisance” traffic alerts. Continued vigilance and professionalism is absolutely required by all stakeholders to ensure aviation safety. Browse the Practical Guide for Improving Flight Path Monitoring and find out more about the NextGen program and the FAA's UAS Implementation Plan.

Workforce Competency and Staffing

Workforce Competency and StaffingBusiness aviation is always in need of a workforce that can safely manage, maintain, service, design, manufacture, and fly its aircraft. Increased industry workforce needs have recently changed intra-industry workforce dynamics, requiring the business aviation community to adapt to attract and retain a current and future business aviation workforce. A gap in personnel compounds pressures on the remaining workforce, adds to the stresses of management, requires resources to hire and train new employees, and can increase the likelihood of fitness for duty concerns in the existing workforce if not properly managed. The business aviation workforce must be timely resourced and prepared with the knowledge, skills and experience to safely lead in business aviation’s dynamic environment. Learn more about NBAA’s workforce development initiatives, including: NBAA Young Professionals (YoPro); NBAA Mentoring Network, NBAA Scholarships and the NBAA Compensation Survey.

Safety Data Sharing and Utilization

Workforce Competency and StaffingThe collection, analysis, and sharing of narrative safety reports and recorded operations data is the basis on which the aviation industry is transitioning from reactive post-accident investigative safety management to proactive, and eventually predictive, safety management. By understanding the “what” through the recorded operations data as well as the “why” through the narrative safety reporting, and the industry-wide sharing of that knowledge, the opportunity exists to continue to reduce the underlying risks in the aviation system that can lead to accidents and incidents. It is imperative that the business aviation community contribute in these communities to further see return on the industry’s safety investments.

Foundations for Safety


Professionalism is the pursuit of excellence through discipline, ethical behavior and continuous improvement. It is a cornerstone focus of active safety management where professional behaviors rule and safe actions become a byproduct. Professionalism is about who we are and how we approach everything that we do. Learn more about professionalism in business aviation.

Safety LeadershipSafety Leadership

The entire organization must work together to fully embrace a proactive safety mindset supported by a “just culture” and evidenced by not only participation and belief in the culture, but the willingness to share safety data with fellow aviation professionals. This second foundation for safety highlights the need for an effective set of beliefs, values, attitudes and practices from executive management to the flight line. Review NBAA's safety leadership resources.

Technical ExcellenceTechnical Excellence

Training is the common denominator for excellence in aviation decision making, risk management and flight path management. Training programs need to address the skill sets required of business aviation professionals today in a way that teaches them new skills and sharpens old ones. Find an NBAA Professional Development course to help enhance your skills, review scholarship opportunities for training courses around the country and consult NBAA’s Training Management System Guide.

Risk ManagementRisk Management

On a daily basis, business aviation operators must effectively identify, analyze and eliminate or mitigate the hazards and associated risks that threaten the viability of the organizations for which they operate. Learn more about safety management systems and benchmark your risk management policies against industry peers using data from over 800 business aviation professionals collected in the 2016 Business Aviation Safety Survey.

Fitness for DutyFitness for Duty

In a physically and mentally demanding environment, a clear mind and healthy body are essential to safe business aircraft operation, maintenance and management. Operators should adopt a fitness for duty policy that addresses fatigue, the effects of medications, mental/emotional health, and many other physical and psychological aeromedical issues. Find more information and resources related to fitness for duty on NBAA's Human Factors page and download the collaborative NBAA and Flight Safety Foundation publication Duty/Rest Guidelines for Business Aviation to review science-based guidelines for duty and rest scheduling.