Last week the NBAA's safety committee published its annual list of top business aviation safety priorities designed to promote safety-focused discussion and advocacy within the business aviation community. The list this year includes the need to establish a positive safety culture, single-pilot safety, crewmember fitness for duty, airport safety, airmanship skills, distraction management, public policy, managing the talent pipeline and technology management.
On the issue of a pilot's fitness for duty, for example, the committee believes that today's physically and mentally demanding environment requires a clear mind and a healthy body for the safe operation, maintenance and management of any business aircraft.
Because accident rates are higher for single-pilot aircraft, the committee also believes that arming pilots flying alone with the tools to manage that environment safely has become more important then ever.
Distraction management is new to this year's list and encompasses not only task saturation and situational awareness, but also distractions created by pressures away from the cockpit.
The committee developed the list with input from many of NBAA's other standing committees, as well as from the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Flight Safety Foundation's Business Advisory Committee and regional business aviation groups.
The European Parliament adopted a new accident/incident-reporting rule on March 4. The legislation is intended to accelerate the flow of relevant accident/incident information, thereby speeding the analysis and adoption of new procedures to reduce accidents.
The system adopted for the 28-state European Union is considered a cornerstone of a modern approach to safety policy by learning not only from accidents, but also from small incidents even if they had no serious consequences in themselves. It is designed to gather and exchange incident information with the involvement of airlines, manufacturers, air traffic controllers, aircrew, mechanics, national authorities and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
A European network of safety analysts, coordinated by the EASA, will be charged with detecting trends and safety issues of pan-European significance while also recommending appropriate action.
The new rule will start to be implemented in May and will be in full force 18 months later. In the meantime, preparations will be made to adopt the necessary regulations and develop guidance material and IT applications for the recording, exchange and analysis of information.
Internal evaluation programs and safety training account for a majority of the deficiencies highlighted in the 2013 audit report from Argus International based on its involvement with customers' implementation of safety management systems (SMS) and their day-to-day operations. All aspects of the flight operation are reviewed during each audit, including the organization's safety management system. The report is a summary of audit results and how they compare with the Argus Platinum and IS-BAO standards.
Argus said the majority of the findings point to deficiencies in internal evaluation programs (IEP) and safety training. An IEP is especially important because it can uncover latent process or program weakness within operations and maintenance before they become causal factors in an accident or incident.
On the safety training side, Argus found that a lack of continuing education and SMS training for safety managers accounted for many of the recommendations. Argus says it is important that safety managers initiate participation in self-development and safety conferences and courses as a way of immersing a flight department in safety management concepts and practices.
The report includes quantitative and explanatory breakdowns of the following areas: internal evaluation program, safety management system training, safety management system manual, hazard reporting, risk assessment, safety committee, general operating manual, safety policy and the fatigue risk management system.
An FAA evaluation team will travel to Nigeria on March 31 to conduct an international air safety assessment (IASA) to determine if that country will maintain its category-one safety certification. The recertification is an important part of Nigeria's aviation strategy because it allows direct access to U.S. airspace by carriers from that country. The enhanced safety rating also directly affects the insurance premiums Nigerian airlines pay, considered to be one of the greatest operating costs for those carriers.
Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, new director general for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said he is confident the country's aviation system will again win its three-year recertification.
India lost its category-one safety rating last month when a similar FAA IASA audit downgraded the country to category two.