NATA, ACSF Forum Brings Call for Broad Safety Standards

 - February 24, 2022, 12:16 PM

More than 50 business aviation leaders gathered this week for a first-of-its-kind event co-hosted by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Air Charter Safety Foundation (ASCF) to have an open conversation about the most pressing safety issues confronting the industry and develop recommendations on addressing them. The participants view the event as “the beginning of a process” in which they can collaboratively develop key performance indicators (KPIs), best practices, and industry standards, and share them throughout the industry.

“We wanted to bring the collective group of subject matter experts and safety practitioners together and talk about how the industry is changing and in that process of change, what opportunities there are for us to a collectively work on,” said Keith DeBerry, senior v-p of safety and education for NATA. “We're going to continue to leverage on this event and spread the word throughout the aviation community over the next year or so through carefully crafted boutique events in various parts of the U.S. We started a conversation that will have a long-lasting impact on business aviation going forward.”

The forum, which drew safety professionals from across various segments of the industry, differed from other safety events in that it was more of a round-table, workshop environment rather than a venue for safety presentations.

“It’s the first time to our knowledge that something like this has been done in the true spirit of a roundtable event,” added Todd Weeber, COO of Magellan Jets and vice-chair of ACSF. The event ultimately drew safety leaders from “a huge variety of sizes of organizations—from new entrant to technology-based companies, to maintenance companies, to FBOs, to operators.”

Leading up to the event, the community furnished roughly 120 safety items to mull over, paving the way for broad discussions around people, processes, and data.

The conversations hit on needs for systemic culture changes and safety management systems to more granular safety topics. Through the discussions, Weeber further stated, participants see a need to establish industry standards and KPIs to support these standards.

The goal is to take these measures to a broader audience, he added. “This is the first annual cycle of outreach where initially our ambition is six to eight locations between now and the annual report,” Weeber noted and said the group is hopeful that “we can multiply those outreach locations many times over between now and then” through partnerships with the university community and ACSF’s upcoming symposium.

Key to the success moving forward is being able to pull together information from a range of data sources to develop the metrics needed to support new standards, said Bob Rufli, v-p and director of flight operations of Pentastar Aviation.

Rufli called the effort complementary to existing standards such as the International Business Aviation Council’s standard for business aircraft operations (IS-BAO). Noting that IS-BAO is more operator-centric, he added, “We’re trying to broaden the ecosystem. We’re trying to bring those kinds of things that IS-BAO talks about to FBOs MROs, small Part 135 operations, and others.”