GA Safety Improvement is a Good Goal, its Achievement may not be as Quick as with CAST

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ARTICLE: US pushes for GA safety gains


Administrator Huerta convened a group (Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA)) of general aviation enthusiasts to add impetus to efforts to improve aviation safety in this segment. He pointed to three areas in which he believes that great advances could be attained with effort:

Participate and invest in the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) – the development of data bases which will help direct focus and initiate improvement. Based on the example of Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), the more diverse GA community would submit information through Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS). Neither general aviation nor business aviation operators have the staff to convert incidents into meaningful data. Hopefully some easy format can be designed to create actionable information.

  • Expedite the Part 23 certification process to reduce costs and install new technology in airplanes—this is such a good idea that even Congress is attempting to adopt it. Hopefully the FAA will move quickly and avoid the need for enactment of the proposed legislation.
  • Support the overhaul of airmen testing and training standards – Mr. Huerta proposes a new approach to these regulatory actions by incorporating risk management and decision-making into flight training and testing. This would be truly innovative.

General aviation can do better. It may be difficult to match the successes of commercial aviation.

On the plus side – the associations, which work on this segment’s behalf, are exceptional. They have a record of creating positive safety programs and disseminating them among their active members.

On the negative side–the community is diverse in many dimensions—geography, available resources, complexity of equipment, sophistication of training (received and available), area of operation, connection to FAA information, time for/willingness to learn new techniques, etc. For these reasons, GA may not be able to achieve the same level of improvement or the same rate of safety increases as commercial aviation.

This is not to say that an initiative for GA is worthless. However, it is important to set expectations at a reasonable level.

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