The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) has a new president and CEO, Jon Beatty, who until recently held the same positions with International Aero Engines. He comes to the aviation safety advocate with solid manufacturing industry experience, having begun his career as a quality engineer with Sikorsky. He was confirmed in his post in April and is now heading up FSF’s efforts to promote further advances in flight safety.
One of the foundation’s top concerns is go-arounds, not just the lack of pilots actually performing the maneuver, but also how poorly many of those pilots handle this seldom-used event. The FSF (Booth 1315), in conjunction with 15 other aviation organizations, studied the issue and in June 2013 released findings about the true risks of a lack of pilot proficiency.
A recent survey of 2,500 working pilots showed 96 percent of approaches are stable. Of the other 4 percent, however, almost none were terminated with the aircraft performing a go-around, a maneuver the foundation calls a part of normal, everyday flying. “We have a pretty good protocol right now for how we fly approaches,” Beatty told AIN. “What is less well documented is when to make a go-around decision. The most recent accidents [Asiana 214 and UPS 1354] have both involved approach and landing [configurations].”
Experts agree that, at least in the case of the Asiana Airlines July 2013 crash in San Francisco, a timely go-around would have prevented the accident. The data has not yet been released on last August’s UPS crash in Birmingham, Alabama.
“There are now more than 40,000 copies of the FSF’s approach and landing accident reduction toolkit in use around the world,” added Beatty. “We’re working on an update to that toolkit right now.” The foundation plans to release the findings this year of that additional survey on go-arounds, which was initiated in 2012.
Also among the top three concerns for the foundation and its new CEO is enabling data sharing, while also maximizing data protection. The FSF is working with Mitre, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Organization to develop the ability to share data and apply analytics to solutions to help improve aviation’s already outstanding safety record. The FSF also co-chairs the ICAO task force on safety information protection intended to establish legal guidelines to protect data from punitive use, except in the case of gross negligence of illegal activity.
“Data will, of course, set us free,” said Beatty. “But up until now there has always been a lot of data that people don’t want to share because they’re fearful of what might happen to it. Right now ICAO has some of the information and IATA also has some. The world would be a better place [if we could all see the data], but one of the obstacles is that lack of a common database. So many individuals treat this information as proprietary. I think we should be comparing ourselves to the industry, not our competitors.”
The foundation’s goal is to help create a system where the data is cleansed so that only the relevant facts appear, and the person or company sharing that data is unidentified. “We need to give all organizations a vision of how overall industry safety could be improved if we can raised the bar on everyone,” stated Beatty.
The FSF is also quite proud of its safety audit arm, which is known as the basic aviation risk standards (BARS) program and is based in the organization’s regional office in Melbourne, Australia. The foundation created these specialized audits to assist operators in the natural resources sector and other remote operations. The BARS program benefits all companies that contract aircraft operators to carry people, so each can focus on safe operations, not redundant audits.
Despite only now getting used to his new desk in the Flight Safety Foundation office in Alexandria, Virginia, AIN asked Beatty if he had a dream for what the foundation could become. “I like a version of the Boy Scout motto for this,” he said. “I hope to make the foundation a better organization by the time I leave than the way I found it when I arrived. I think the FSF brings the voice of reason to this industry. We’re the only pure safety organization that exists. I think we make a perfect third leg to the three-legged stool of manufacturers and regulators.”