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ARTICLE: Speech – “The Safety and Success of GA”


Acting (an adjective that will hopefully be deleted by the Senate very soon) Administrator Huerta spoke to NATA’s Aviation Business Roundtable referencing a number of FAA initiatives that they hope will help raise the bar on General Aviation (GA) Safety. In addition to NextGen, unleaded Av Gas and the Metroplex Initiative, Mr. Huerta discussed at some length the collection and analysis of data including flight data, pilot reports and air traffic controller reports as all of which are excellent voluntary reporting programs.

The Acting Administrator also encouraged NATA to participate in the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program. ASIAS enables users to perform integrated queries across multiple databases, search an extensive warehouse of safety data, and display pertinent elements in an array of useful formats. Other than submitting individual voluntary safety reports via the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) there is no reference on the ASIAS website as to how an organization like NATA could participate in ASIAS.

Hopefully, as ASIAS moves forward the FAA has plans to allow organizational contribution, otherwise it will remain just a central safety data repository. ASAIS could be a very powerful tool that would benefit the entire aviation industry if it was expanded to allow data submittal by individuals and organizations. Make ASIAS the central station for all safety reports whereby a report is submitted at 1 location and subsequently filtered and categorized by component (ATA 100 codes), industry segment (by FAR Parts 91, 121, 135, 145 etc). Lessons learned are also very important and ASAIS should enable that capability, which is a key element of an SMS.

Mr. Huerta also encouraged the GA and NATA community to implement SMS. NATA has done an excellent job with the Air Charter Safety Foundation in promoting and supporting SMS and safety event reporting. The FAA has two pending SMS rules for Air Carriers and Airports and the FAA has plans to include manufacturers, 135 and 145 operators with a future SMS requirement.

Right now the FAA is relying on voluntary SMS implementation for these communities which is a hard sell for small 135 and 145 organizations with the perceived cost and resource requirements.

One area that the FAA should consider is approaching AOPA, EAA, GAMA, GA flying clubs and the insurance underwriters about SMS. If some incentives could be put in place through an FAA, GA and insurance industry SMS partnership it may incentivize them to implement a club SMS program and in turn allow their insurance premiums to be based on their safety record. This could serve as a solid step in improving GA safety but more importantly setting the SMS foundation for these pilots that move on to careers in commercial aviation.

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