Safety advocate Robert “Bob” Barnes died in Phoenix on September 28 after suffering a stroke. Barnes was instrumental in establishing the International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP) as a way to constantly improve the quality of pilot training whether the student flew a Cessna 150, a Falcon 2000 or a Boeing 777.
He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from the ROTC program at the University of Southern California in 1967. He served as a USAF classroom and airborne instructor on the T-38 for two years.
In civilian life, Barnes ran Robert B. Barnes & Associates, a technology and aviation consulting company. It was in 2006, however, that he broke new ground in flight training by forming the VLJ Training Stakeholders Discussion Group to begin wrestling with the training demands of the then-new very light jets that were going to be piloted by relatively low-time pilots. He wrote and delivered a number of papers on the VLJ and other flight training topics at the London-based Royal Aeronautical Society, of which he was a member.
Chris Lehman, editor-in-chief for Civil Aviation Training magazine, said, “Bob’s energy, drive and absolute dedication to aviation safety were remarkable. His latest initiative–the International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP)–had at its core [a principle] that proprietary business concerns had no place in aviation safety. Safety trumps everything. Bob’s vision is well under way, and we will miss both his optimism and his altruism.”
Steve Lasday, senior feeder safety specialist at FedEx commented, “Bob’s real-world experience as a T-38 instructor afforded him the ability to truly understand the concerns of safety and operational personnel alike. It was one of my greatest career highlights to spend time with him when he presented a paper at the Royal Aeronautical Society VLJ safety and training conference. To my knowledge, Bob was the first person in the industry to initiate an effort like that. I truly hope, that if only as a memorial to Bob, the IAFTP continues its pioneering work.”