Business Aviation utilizes SMS numbers to provide its Members statistically significant, proactive SAFETY recommendations

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Small operations may struggle with SMS

Business Aviation typically has lean management

NBAA provides economy of scale by crunching the numbers for preventative safety actions


One of the criticisms about Safety Management Systems (SMS) has that the discipline requires significant dedication of resources to support the systems. The amplitude of this complaint increased when SMS is applied to Business Aviation and General Aviation; for those two segments have limited resources.

Much to their credit, both AOPA and NBAA have worked to provide the benefits of the Big Data for their segments of aviation. The information is being collected efficiently and the heavy lifting- the analysis, review and prioritization– is being performed by their staffs and special committees. That is an excellent allocation of resources since this specialized work is being accomplished by people qualified for this quantitative work.

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Below is an NBAA article relating some of their powerful, proactive advice:

NBAA Refines Top Safety Areas to Measurably Mitigate Business Aviation Risks

The principal hazards identified in NBAA’s Top Safety Focus Areas have changed little over time, said Safety Committee Chair Tom Huff, and starting this year, the committee will review the top safety areas biennially so operators and the committee can more efficiently address the hazards and causes, and develop resources to reduce risk.

Tom Huff Gulfstream and CV










This helps operators and the committee to maintain their focus on the Top Safety Focus Areas, said NBAA Safety Committee Vice Chair Jeff Wofford. Everyone should be working within their operation to address the identified hazard causes that lead to loss of control in flight, runway excursions, controlled flight into terrain and aircraft ground operation and handling incidents.

At the same time, operators are encouraged to increase their sharing of human-reported and automated safety data, while leveraging systems knowledge and mode selection/engagement verification to defend against automation mismanagement. Improving safety performance of single-pilot operations is a sustaining effort for the committee, and all recommended practices are underpinned by the committee’s foundations for safety: professionalism, safety leadership, technical excellence and risk management.

Safety is an endless effort, and the NBAA Safety Committee is dedicated to discrete actions that measurably mitigate operational risk,” said Mark Larsen, [1]CAM, NBAA senior manager of safety and flight operations.Mark Larsen NBAA

“For example, one of the tools for reducing ground operations and handling incidents is the NBAA Airport Audit Checklist, (PDF) which is designed to be used by operators when making an airport or FBO selection. A recent joint industry/FAA working group developed specific mitigation strategies to address the risk of diesel exhaust fluid contamination of aircraft fuel,” he said. “The committee discussed and agreed to incorporate those strategies into the NBAA Airport Audit Checklist, providing a more comprehensive solution for business aircraft operators to utilize, and thus better mitigate the risk of airborne power loss from such a ground-handling incident.”




NBAA Safety Committee working groups continue their efforts on discrete mitigations for all of the hazard causes categorized by the focus areas. “We are also working on metrics that evaluate the effectiveness of each deliverable. What was it designed to do and how is it achieving that goal?” said Huff.

For the committee and the business aircraft operators that employ these safety products, the metrics will “provide better visibility on what is going on, leading to better safety risk management for business aviation and ultimately, success in moving the safety needle to the ‘safer’ direction,” said Huff.

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2019 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas


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Top Safety Issues

Reduce the Risk of Loss of Control Inflight

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Loss of control inflight (LOC-I) accidents result in more fatalities throughout general aviation than any other category of accident. The alarming consistency of catastrophic outcomes in this type of accident continue to make its contributing factors a targeted issue for safety improvement by NBAA and aviation professional organizations across the globe. Learn more about this severe threat on NBAA’s 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 across the country.

Reduce the risk of Runway Excursions

Runway excursions continue to afflict the business aviation industry. Operators can prevent most excursions by mitigating well identified hazards, including adhering to stabilized approach and landing criteria, and using accurate and timely runway condition data. The Safety Committee continues to raise awareness of these highly preventable incidents by utilizing a data driven approach to enable all operators to learn from the experiences of their peers.

Reduce the Risk of Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)

CFIT illustration

Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) has occurred in more than 15 percent of general aviation accidents and fatalities. Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (EGPWS) and other ground collision avoidance systems are exceptionally capable technological solutions, but not all business aviation aircraft are so equipped. Further, safety data reporting on EGPWS alerting still points to loss of terrain awareness that would have otherwise resulted in catastrophe had it not been for a last-minute save by the crew. NBAA continues to raise awareness, push for scenario-based training, and spark discussions on technology and best practices to reduce the risk of CFIT.

Reduce the Risk of Aircraft Ground Operation and Handling Incidents

Within business aviation, far more aircraft suffer damage on the ground than in the air. Although these events rarely result in serious injuries or loss of life, they can be very expensive and hinder, if not cancel altogether, any ensuing flight operations. NBAA encourages the adoption of robust Safety Management Systems (SMS) among all operators and FBOs which would include enhanced standards, training, and procedures to prevent avoidable mishaps on ramps and in hangars.

Improve the Safety Performance of Single-Pilot Operationssingle pilot

Single pilot operations have enhanced risks when compared to multi pilot operations, demonstrated by the fact that single pilot aircraft are 30 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than aircraft with dual pilot crews. Single pilot operations are more susceptible to task saturation; when task saturation increases, so too does the number of errors. The Safety Committee has an important role to play in arming pilots with tools and training to safely manage single pilot operations. Examples of these efforts include the annual Single-Pilot Safety Standdown event, contributions to news and resources, and further outreach to the single-pilot community.

Increase the Use and Sharing of Human-Reported and Automated Safety Data

Human-reported and automated safety data can provide a wealth of information to business aircraft operators. However, in a survey conducted by the NBAA Safety Committee, only 45% of association members said they participate in some sort of an automated safety data sharing effort.

In the aftermath of recent incidents, NBAA members have seen data pointing to the prevalence of common causes throughout the industry. How many incidents might business aviation prevent by taking advantage of this information before a tragedy, rather than after? Without operators utilizing or providing data, these critical failures can go unnoticed, even in the most robust SMS, resulting in incidents and potentially loss of life. The Safety Committee is developing tools to promote the use and sharing of data among business aircraft operators not already doing so.

pilot computer interfaceImprove Defenses Against Automation Mismanagement

Aircraft and avionics manufacturers have developed amazing tools to enhance situational awareness, ATC communications, aircraft control, and aircraft system management. To take advantage of this technology, however, crew must have a full understanding of all modes and capabilities that this technology offers, as well as the training to understand when it is not producing the desired outcome. Over-reliance and over-dependence on cockpit automation can induce complacency and a reluctance to actively monitor aircraft flight path and performance, as well as disconnect the automation when it is prudent to do so. Moreover, the mismanagement of automation has played a role in incidents related to most of the other Top Safety Focus Areas.

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Trade associations justify their dues based on a number of benefits. There is no greater return to the companies that operate aircraft than the safety information provided by NBAA. By bringing to bear the level of expertise to provide business operators with statistically significant, proactive recommendations is the #1 reason for joining this association.

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[1] UND, BBA, Aviation Management, 4 years flight instructor, Certified Aviation Manager, 2015; 15 years NBAA.


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