Hiring Right Is Key To Safety Leadership, Says Kern

 - October 29, 2012, 1:00 PM
Dr. Tony Kern lecturing at the 2012 Bombardier Safety Standdown held in Wichita.

Dr. Tony Kern challenged this year’s Safety Standdown audience in Wichita to stay ahead of the leadership curve. “Want to focus on safety over the next ten years?” he asked. “Find the right people and figure out how to hold on to them. Competition for recruiting and selecting well qualified pilots will increase…If you don’t stay in step, you’ll get the leftovers.”

Kern also emphasized the need to perform at skill levels that exceed, not just meet, standards, using the 2009 Colgan regional airline accident to illustrate the danger of accepting regulatory proficiency as good enough. “Clearly there was a lack of [cockpit] discipline, proficiency and skill,” he maintained. “And all these failures occurred above the regulatory line, despite what it looked like. Eight or nine years from now, these people might be your best crew. No matter which people we put in which airplane, those pilots can’t just meet minimums. They must perform at a level of holistic excellence.”

The industry can’t survive with the eroding levels of professionalism being displayed today, Kern maintained. “Aren’t we all professionals though? If the answer is yes, then we’ve set the bar too low. We’ve dumbed ourselves down with what is an acceptable performance. But how do we raise that bar without angering some people enough to fight against it?”


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