Aviation safety is only as good its people: GOOD NEWS

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Aviation Safety

Judgment, Leadership, Vision & Passion

Unmanned aircraft and computers which remove certain types of aviation controls from the hands of the pilots are the de rigeur paths of our industry. Recent exceptions to technology replacing humans have sent caution messages, i.e. displacing the cockpit crews from the continuous operation of the controls has resulted in some errors. This is a theme which we have mentioned in the past and will continue to do so.

So, though aviation heads to total automation, we have some excellent examples of the value of great people in key positions.

I. Flight Standards announces the People who will be leading its Policy Transition

faa fsdo aviation safetyAs previously chronicled here, the FAA Flight Standards organization is reorganizing in order to better manage a number of its transformative initiatives (SMS, the new compliance philosophy, the revised Part 23 [and Part 25?], standardization, etc.). The leaders of the FS announced the new Directors and Deputy Directors in this statement:

Submitted by FAA on Fri, 07/14/2017 – 09:58

Hi, folks –

John Barbagallo, Mike Zenkovich, and I are very happy to announce a major milestone in the evolution of Flight Standards: the selection of the Directors and Deputy Directors.

As you know, the organizational intent of our restructuring is to facilitate and accelerate the evolution of Flight Standards as an agile, efficient, and consistent organization. Leadership is one of the keys to successful change, so we invested a great deal of time and effort in making these selections. Just to recap, we used a three-level interview process to help us identify leaders who have the right mindset, which includes awareness of, and commitment to, our new direction. The interviews were also intended to help us determine where these leaders best fit in the new organization.

We used this process to interview and place all current executives. For the remaining positions, we used a bid process that attracted 640 applicants.  After several stages of evaluation, we interviewed 8 candidates.  We focused on selecting those who demonstrated that they have the right mindset and that they are prepared to lead at the executive level in the new Flight Standards Service.

Mindset and leadership maturity are very important. For that reason, we chose not to fill two of the deputy positions at this time. We will address this issue through a future bid.

With that background in mind, we are proud to announce that we have selected the following leaders to serve in the Director and Deputy Director positions in the new Flight Standards Service structure:

Air Carrier Safety Assurance

Tim D. Miller, Director

Jim Gardner, Deputy Director

Wes Mooty, Deputy Director

General Aviation Safety Assurance

Larry Fields, Director

Jim Viola, Deputy Director

Thomas Winston, Deputy Director

Safety Standards

Rick Domingo, Director

Tim Shaver, Deputy Director

Deputy Director (Not currently filled.)

Foundational Business

Bruce DeCleene, Director

Nick Reyes, Deputy Director

Deputy Director (Not currently filled.)

Again, we chose these leaders for their mindset, their awareness of our new direction, and their commitment to leading this crucial change. We will introduce this team more fully in a future Monthly Message video. In the meantime, please join us in supporting them, and in holding them accountable to being the kind of leaders we need.


John Duncan
John Barbagallo
Mike Zenkovich

II. The NTSB Chair

ntsb sumwalt aviation safetyThough the Board’s enabling statute stipulates that its Members must meet some relevant criteria as a condition for nomination, some White House executive placement offices have used this panel as a place to reward some political supporters without much regard for the requirements. Member Sumwalt has served on this independent safety investigation organization since August 2006 designated as Vice Chairman of the Board, reappointed Mr. Sumwalt in 2011, designated Vice Chairman and on July 14, 2017 nominated to be the 14th chair.

Mr. Sumwalt was the subject of a number of posts here:

· Li Batteries Can Generate A 1,100° Fire = HAZARD; More MUST Be Done, Says NTSB Member Sumwalt!

· Member Sumwalt In Addressing A ProPilot Article Creates Some Insight On How The NTSB Really Works

· NTSB Member Sumwalt’ S Talk On Safety Culture Is Filled With Superb Educational Content

· Member Sumwalt And Other NTSB Members Are Required To Have High Level Of Qualifications By Statute

· The Untold Story Behind The National Transportation Safety Board

· Aviation Safety Lessons From NTSB Amtrak Investigation Process

· NTSB Member Articulates Great Aviation Safety Questions

· NTSB Program Raises Questions About The Ergonomics Of High Tech Cockpit

· Rotorcraft Operations Join The Airplane Sector’s Efforts To Collect, Analyze And Use Data To Improve Safety

· NTSB member speaks with aviation safety expertise and his advice should be carefully followed

· NTSB Board Member Makes Insightful Comment On Aviation Safety

NBAA did an excellent job of putting Sumwalt’s nomination in the proper context:

NBAA Applauds Nomination of Robert Sumwalt to Lead NTSB

nbaa ntsb sumwaltContact: Dan Hubbard, 202-783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC, July 14, 2017 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) welcomes the recent nomination of safety visionary Robert L. Sumwalt III to be the 14th chair of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Sumwalt’s extensive and successful career in aviation makes him a compelling choice for heading an organization that is dedicated to improving aviation safety.

Sumwalt, a former member of NBAA’s Safety Committee, managed a small flight department for a utility company in South Carolina before being appointed to the NTSB in August 2006, when he was also designated vice chair of the board for a two-year term. In November 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Sumwalt to another five-year term as a board member, and Sumwalt was again designated vice chair on March 31, 2017.

While on the board, Sumwalt has led teams of NTSB investigators and other parties as the member on-scene for several significant investigations, including an Embraer Phenom 100 accident in Gaithersburg, MD in 2014; a Hawker Beechcraft Premier 1A accident in Thompson, GA in 2013 and the crash of an emergency medical services helicopter in Georgetown, SC in 2009.

In addition to Sumwalt’s career in business aviation, he was a pilot for 24 years with Piedmont Airlines and US Airways, where he was on a special assignment to the flight safety department and served on the company’s flight operations quality assurance monitoring team. He was also a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System.

Sumwalt is a frequent and engaging presenter at NBAA safety events, where he shares his wealth of knowledge with attendees. His focus on safety leadership has helped promote the importance of proactive safety management. Further, his diligent work on safety awareness and leadership has greatly influenced business aviation, guiding the industry’s voluntary adoption of safety programs that have demonstrated real value in helping improve business aviation safety.

“Robert is a stalwart advocate of safety, not only for business aviation, but for all of aviation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “His strong leadership and the resulting increase in implementation of safety programs benefits aircraft operators, travelers and the greater transportation industry. We look forward to supporting his nomination and working with him once he takes office.”

If Sumwalt’s nomination is confirmed by the Senate, he will lead the NTSB for a two-year period as chair.

These individuals will exercise the judgment, leadership, vision and passion for safety needed for our profession’s future.



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