Safety’s Future Moves Beyond Business As Usual

 - February 18, 2013, 1:30 PM
Kevin Hiatt, former Delta pilot and World Airways vice president of safety.

“The absence of an accident doesn’t mean your [flight operation] is safe,” new Flight Safety Foundation president and CEO Kevin Hiatt told AIN. Hiatt, who is a former vice president of safety at World Airways as well as a retired Delta Air Lines pilot, said the excellent U.S. aviation safety record the past few years has some critics wondering how it could ever be any better. But, according to Hiatt, that’s yesterday’s thinking and is precisely why the foundation initiated a campaign against complacency. “We’ve operated in a reactive mode for years, but moved into the more proactive mode we use these days,” he said. Hiatt said the work is not over. “The next phase will be a predictive mode that will happen when safety data can be de-identified and added to a single worldwide database–tentatively called the Center for Safety Excellence–that is just now sprouting with the help of ICAO,” he explained. While it’s still years away from completion, the new database will allow pilots anywhere in the world to query the safety history of any airport from hazard reports by the flight crews who have already flown there. One of the prime locations for those hungry for safety data is China, where many new operators are still learning how to use their business airplanes. “An effective flight department demands recurrent training, as well as some kind of safety program to track operational data and identify risks,” Hiatt said. “That also includes some kind of regular safety audit.”