Aviation safety is priceless, even in tough economic times
Economic times may be tough, but it’s never a good time for operators to fail to invest in safety. This was the message that Bombardier Aerospace sent here in Geneva yesterday when, for the third successive year, it staged the European edition of its long-running Safety Standdown.
The 2009 event was opened by Bombardier Learjet chief Pilot Rick Rowe, who outlined the fundamental principles of Safety Standdown. This was followed by the following presentations: crew resource management by John Nance, an author and aviation analyst for ABC television news; professional airmanship by Dr. Tony Kern, a safety and personal performance expert; advanced aerodynamics by Sean Roberts, director of the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California; and fatigue countermeasures by aviation medicine specialist Dr. Mark Rosekind. Around 100 pilots and flight department personnel attended the all-day event held at the Crowne Plaza.
Rowe pointed out that from the beginning emphasis was on integrating knowledge-based training into skill-based training. “This is an educational forum developed by pilots for pilots for the purpose of reducing accidents due to human error,” he said.
Recognizing that human error creeps into all facets of aviation, Rowe said that accidents due to human error in maintenance are on the rise so training for technicians became incorporated in Standdown two years ago.
John Nance’s presentation gave an overview of how the industry has learned to institutionally handle human error, how it has changed the culture and why it is important to remember the past to prevent returning to it. He began his presentation with discussions of the recent crash of a Continental Airlines Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 in Buffalo, New York, that killed all 50 on board, and the near crash of a Boeing 747 in California a number of years ago when the airplane missed slamming into a mountain by 50 feet after a series of violent compressor stalls in one engine. In both cases, a loss of crew situational awareness played a major role.