Business Aviation’s Safety Record is Better; SMS could help it Achieve even Higher Performance

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Article: U.S. Business Jet Accident Numbers Plummet

Generally the public, the Hill and others do not differentiate between business and general aviation. They are not commercial airline flights and some GA aircraft also fly in the Business segment. The differential is defined in the NBAA Bylaws :

(1) The Member must own or operate a multi-engine aircraft and/or a single-engine turbine powered aircraft.

(2) The Member must certify that an operations manual and a maintenance program are employed.

(3) When passengers are aboard, each multi-engine or single-engine turbine powered aircraft must be flown by two professional pilots employed directly or through a contract/lessor operator. One pilot must have a currently valid air transport rating, and the other pilot must have at least a currently valid commercial license and a currently valid instrument rating.

(4) The Member must certify that each pilot and/or crew member undergoes recurrent training and a proficiency check at least once per year….

To add to that, the members of NBAA get some of the best technical support available to operators without regard to their size.

The low numbers of BA accidents reported in the AIN numbers are not that surprising, but the significant reductions (2013 had 14 accidents versus 34 in 2012; 17 fatalities as opposed to 24 in the prior year) are very impressive. AIN reviews the records of these aircraft of foreign registry. The scope of the article does not reach the underlying reasons for this positive news.

What would be more telling is the “why’s” not the “what’s”. How has business aviation achieved a better safety performance—better training, improved maintenance, higher quality of the equipment, something on the ground (airport safety) or is it the positive tyranny of numbers? One contributing factor surely is the fact that NBAA is a proponent of IBAC/IS-BAO Stage 1-4 certification, which has an SMS qualification built in.  They also have members with ARGUS and Wyvern qualifications both of which have SMS components.

If in fact the majority of NBAA members are already embracing SMS, the next logical step is the establishment of a centralized SMS data portal whereby members could share lessons learned and best practices: analogous to an ASIAS for GA and Biz aircraft community – something that the FAA might do eventually but is years away.

If NBAA were to create the uniform reporting system, and not wait for FAA, they could collect the numbers and most importantly analyze the trends. NBAA could then, like ASIAS, issue to its participants recommendations, point out where there have been deficiencies and produce quantified bases for taking the next, needed step to further increase safety. Not easy, but with technical help it could provide the next increment of aviation safety for business aviation NOW. NBAA has frequently moved its flight departments towards a higher standard than the FAA can.

Taking the ASIAS role and creating such a strong aviation safety resource would follow that tradition.

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